First, reports indicated that Michael Nylander had signed with the Edmonton Oilers. No financial details were released, but nobody thought anything of it. It seemed that the Oilers finally signed an actual free agent.
Then, out of left field, the Washington Capitals locked up the Swedish center to a contract.
Obviously, Oilers GM Kevin Lowe was pissed about the whole ordeal, and now we're starting to find out that is was more than simply being outbid.
"On Sunday, July 1, 2007, Kevin Lowe, Oilers general manager, and Mr. Mike Gillis, certified agent for Michael Nylander, negotiated and agreed to a multi-year NHL Standard Players Contract, starting in 2007-08. Mr. Gillis confirmed same to the Oilers in writing," the Oilers' statement read Tuesday.
"The Oilers then proceeded with preparations to announce Mr. Nylander's contract agreement on July 2, and concurrently continued with the process of negotiating with other free agents based upon Mr. Nylander being an important roster ingredient for the future.
"However, while the Oilers were expecting the returned signed agreements from Mr. Nylander and Mr. Gillis, the Oilers discovered through public announcements made mid-afternoon on July 2, that Mr. Nylander had subsequently entered into a long-term contract with the Capitals.
Wow! I can't remember the last time something like THIS happened in the NHL. Agents don't usually bait-and-switch quite that blatently.
Without knowing the contents of the document the Oilers received, we can't quite tell if Nylander's agent agreed to an actual contract, or agreed that the money was satisfactory. I'm sure we'll find out more in the near future as this soap opera gets juicier.
I'm also sure that the NHL will 'fix' the ordeal by forcing Nylander's contract with the Capitals to stand, by hook and by crook. There is no way that Bettman will allow Nylander to go to the Oilers, nor would the Oilers want an unhappy camper on their hands.
How much is the NHL gonna pay to get out of this one?