Earlier today Russian sports daily Sport-Express published an examination of a wide array of rumors involving players who could leave North America or Europe for the KHL this summer. The article, written by Mikhail Zislis, mentions two players of particular interest to New York Rangers fans: restricted free agent Nikolai Zherdev and unrestricted free agent Nikolai Antropov. Zislis reinforces earlier speculation that Russian interest in Zherdev was coming from national team coach and new Salavat Yulaev Ufa bench boss Vyacheslav Bykov, while reporting that information from those closest to the 24-year old forward suggests he’d prefer to remain in New York. Zislis also squelches speculation that 29-year old Kazakhstan native Antropov could be KHL-bound, citing the wife’s unwillingness to move to Russia. Zislis’ comments on the two players is translated below.
ZHERDEV HASN’T BITTEN ON UFA OFFER
Many rumors soared around Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev. It was said that he was invited to the national team for the World Championship with ulterior motives — [that while] there Vyacheslav Bykov and Igor Zakharkin actively urged the player to [come to] Ufa. The sum which the Salavat bosses supposedly offered Nikolai was said to be $12 million for three years (though, for obvious reasons, it will hardly be possible to verify the accuracy of that information in the near future).
But according to the latest information received from [those in] the immediate circle of the hockey player, Zherdev is inclined to remain in New York. He had the best season in his career with the Rangers, and can expect a considerable increase in salary, even in spite of his failure to perform in the playoffs.
His teammate Nikolai Antropov was a few steps from moving to Lokomotiv a year ago, but at the time Yaroslavl decided not to violate the moratorium on transfers between the KHL and NHL (relations between the two leagues after the flight of Radulov from Nashville to Salavat have been strained to the limit). Since then, the Kazakh forward has been traded from hopeless Toronto to the strong Rangers; what’s more, on the Broadway club he has found himself to be in favor with new head coach John Tortorella. Now, Antropov’s Yaroslavl prospects are even less apparent, all the more so because his better half doesn’t want to change her place of residence.
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