November 19, 2008
The Chicago Blackhawks, according to multiple NHL sources, have a standing deal ready to go at a moment's notice to acquire veteran center Michael Nylander from the Washington Capitals according to TSN.ca.
However, in order to make the transaction, the Blackhawks need to free up considerable cap space and conventional wisdom is the only way they can do that is trade netminder Nikolai Khabibulin. Just one problem, though. Khabibulin is playing much better than Cristobal Huet, the free agent acquisition who was supposed to be the Hawks' No. 1 goaltender this season. On the surface, it doesn't seem possible that the Hawks could trade Khabibulin right now, but the sense that is precisely what will happen because the Blackhawks feel the strong need to bolster the centre position.
The irony, of course, is that Huet was the Capitals' goaltender and when Washington refused to pay him what he wanted in free agency, the Hawks swooped in and gave Huet a four-year, $22.5-million deal that doesn't look as good now as it did in the summer, when the Hawks were coming off a season where Khabibulin was a gross underachiever. Washington then had to go out and make a deal with Jose Theodore, who at times this season has been outplayed by backup Brent Johnson. Now, the Blackhawks having that glut of goalie salaries is apparently what is preventing them from getting Nylander from the Capitals.