It hasn't happened yet, but sometime, probably within a week, the Washington Capitals will officially announced that Michael Nylander has been loaned to Dynamo Minsk of the KHL, Russia's super league.

According to at least one report, Nylander, who has a no-trade contract, has agreed to the loan, which, when it comes to fruition, will end a long, and sometimes agonizing, roster situation for the Caps. Nylander fell out of favor with head coach Bruce Boudreau late last season and hasn't played with the Caps since.

Washington did attempt to make a deal during training camp and early in the season but nothing panned out. At the same time, there were numerous rumors about him heading to Russia, but nothing came of that, either.

Most recently, Washington assigned Nylander to the Grand Rapids Griffins on a two-week conditioning stint, a move designed primarily to showcase his talents to the Detroit Red Wings, Grand Rapids' NHL parent team. Detroit was looking at Nylander as a potential roster replacement, but the difficulties the Wings were facing were apparently resolved. Nylander was recalled from Grand Rapids and passed through waivers, which led to the increasingly serious discussions with the KHL.

If the loan worked out, it will remove Nylander from the roster and free up $4,875,000 in salary cap room. It was, in fact, that salary (and Nylander has another year remaining on his contract for the same amount) that cost the Capitals Chris Bourque.


Bourque had earned a spot in the opening-day lineup for Washington before a realization that Bourque's salary would have pushed the Capitals over the cap. Washington tried to assign Bourque to Hershey, but Bourque had to clear waivers first, and Pittsburgh claimed him.

Nylander's departure, when it comes, will likely have a major impact on the Bears, if not immediately, then throughout the rest of the season. It will clear a roster spot, meaning that a player like Karl Alzner can be called up and kept, in addition to freeing up cap space. It could also result in a potential trade with another team, which could mean one or more players in Hershey could be included in a deal.

"Looking into the future, if (Nylander) does end up going and it does free up the money, it can be looked at in numerous ways," said Hershey coach Mark French. "They'll have the extra cap space to go out and get another NHL player. And it probably creates a good situation because when they need to call a guy up, they can call him based on merit.

"It's always an interesting issue. The salary cap is a reality now, and sometimes its more about contracts and the size of contracts than a player's actual ability."

Defenseman Mike Green returned to the Washington lineup Wednesday night, but Jeff Schultz, Boyd Gordon and Alex Ovechkin are still on the injured list, a situation that will probably allow Mathieu Perreault to remain with the Caps through the weekend. Perreault has received strong reviews from the Caps, and if Nylander is moved before either Gordon or Ovechkin returns to the lineup, he may find himself spending a bit more time in Washington than expected.

* * *

The week that was: PLUS: LW Oskar Osala picks up goal, assist, finishes plus-2 in helping Bears post 4-1 win over Manchester on Saturday.

MINUS: G Jason Bacashihua struggles in net, allowing five goals on 27 shots in 5-0 loss to Portland on Friday.; 272-5611, ext. 160