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Oilers complain they had Nylander before Washington did @NHL

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -The Edmonton Oilers complained to the NHL on Tuesday that they had an agreement with free agent center Michael Nylander before he signed with the Washington Capitals.

The Oilers said in a statement Nylander had reached an agreement with them Sunday, only to then sign a $19.5-million, four-year contract with the Capitals the next day.

The Oilers say they held off going after other potential free agents because they thought they had Nylander. The 34-year-old Swede was one of the top catches on the free-agent market, setting career highs in goals (26), assists (57) and points (83) with the New York Rangers last season.

"On Sunday, July 1, 2007, Kevin Lowe, Oilers general manager, and Mr. Mike Gillis, certified agent for Michael Nylander, negotiated and agreed to a multiyear NHL Standard Players Contract, starting in 2007-08. Mr. Gillis confirmed same to the Oilers in writing," the Oilers statement said.

"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.

A lawyer for the Oilers could not provide contract details on the Edmonton deal.

The NHL did not have an immediate response and call to Capitals general manager George McPhee was also not returned.

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