According to the 25-year old defenseman himself, the New York Rangers are interested in acquiring restricted free agent Anton Babchuk. In an interview with Russian paper Sports Day by Day, the Kiev native confirmed that he will not sign the $1 million qualifying offer he received from the Carolina Hurricanes and revealed that the Rangers are amongst a group of seven or eight teams that have expressed an interest in his services to his agent, Jay Grossman.
- Anton, have you really turned down a million [dollar] contract for the season?
- Yes, I believe that I deserve more. And I’m prepared to justify my point of view. Look at my statistics for the season. I had a pretty good season. I was fourth in goals scored among NHL defenseman. And in Carolina I was first among defenseman in this category. And second in points. [I was] also first on the team in plus-minus (+13). I don’t know why the management in Carolina has not assessed all of these facts appropriately.
- Would two million [dollars] suit you?
- At this stage I don’t want to give a concrete figure. I have defined certain requirements, which I put forward through my agent Jay Grossman. But Carolina didn’t want to move forward, and last week Grossman worked through options for my trade to other teams.
- Who are among the contenders for [your services]?
- Jay has informed me that seven or eight NHL teams have shown interest in my services. Among them, for example, are the Rangers and Vancouver. So I look to my future with optimism.
- How has Carolina taken your [refusal]?
- Calmly. They have their business, we have ours. Club management wants to sign the qualifying offer for the minimum price, the player wants get as much as possible. And so now we’re looking for a team that will be more interested in my game.
- Have you excluded the possibility of continuing your career in Russia?
- It’s impossible to exclude anything. But, to tell you the truth, I would like to continue my career in the NHL. As a result, I’ll insist that the minimal term of my future contract be three years. If I leave for Russia at this time, Carolina will also lose. Because in two years I’ll have turned 27 years old and will become an unrestricted free agent. Thus, the Hurricanes will not receive any compensation for my next transfer to another NHL club. Therefore the best option for Carolina now, if they are not prepared to raise my salary, is simply to trade me.
Babchuk played in 72 games for the Hurricanes last season, scoring 16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points. Following a similar contract dispute two years ago, he spent the 2007-2008 playing with former Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov in Omsk, where he had a bit of a breakout year offensively, putting up nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 57 games while playing on Avangard’s top defense pairing. The 6-foot-5, 212-pound blueliner has a cannon of a shot from the point, but is prone to errors in the defensive zone.
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