As many of you have already heard, the Philadelphia Flyers have invited FA Michael Nylander to attend training camp. Now I won't hold it against you if you don't know much about the 6'1" Center from Stockholm, Sweden. After all, he was drafted by a team that no longer exists, the Hartford Whalers. He also had bounced around the minor leagues over the past few seasons. So why, you may ask, is this journeyman center worthy of even so much as a tryout? Well, the truth will set you free.
Nylander is trying to make a return to the NHL after a horrific injury. On October 23, 2010 while playing for the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres), he was hit from behind. Three days later Michael underwent successful spinal fusion surgery. Six months post surgery he was cleared to play hockey once more.
Nylander never made a huge splash in the NHL. Since his first season with Hartford, Michael only broke 80 points once in his career, and topped 20 goals on four occasions. Nylander, however, is a solid faceoff man who can pass the puck very well. His two biggest seasons were '05-06 and '06-'07 in which he amassed 79 and 83 points respectively.
What do the two most succesful seasons in Michael's career have in common? Well other than the fact they were with the hated blue shirts from Broadway, there was one other common denominator. Jaromir Jagr. Or should I say, "Puff Nuts". Nylander centered the Rangers first line with "Puff Nuts" riding shotgun. Jagr had his second highest goal total of his career (54) in '05-'06. The duo combined for 202 points that year. Not bad for a couple of guys who were alive the last time the Flyers won the cup.
So where am I going with the fact that two men, on the verge of 40, had a good season a couple of years back? Well like any duo that performs well, you have one thing going for you. Chemistry. Like Martin and Lewis, Abbot and Costello, sometimes it just works. Now before you start yelling, "Well maybe we should just bring back Mario too", let me interject. Unlike Mario who would demand a kings ransom to suit up, Nylander will undoubtedly throw on an NHL sweater for the league minimum. Something the Flyers can afford.
Since the Flyers are at the league maximum in contracts (50) Nylander would have to thoroughly impress the Flyers brass to earn himself a roster spot. But who knows? Michael and Jaromir may just have a little magic left. Like two aging men running shop on the retirement home bocce ball court the duo could once again become masters of the frozen pond. It's a long shot, but the two obviously have something that will be seriously lacking in the Flyer's lockeroom early on, chemistry. Due to the plethera of moves this offseason, the Flyers will take any bit of that they can get. So saddle up, Mike and Jaromir, and show us what you guys can do. If all else fails, there is always that AARP card to look forward to.
Until next time, stay cup hungry my friends, and LETS GO FLYERS!!!!!!!!