Zherdev discusses his future as arbitration date looms
Tuesday July 14th 2009, 8:22 am

As New York Rangers General Manager Glen Sather continues to collect similarly-skilled wingers — the latest being speedy Russian Enver Lisin — it would appear that Nikolai Zherdev’s days in Ranger blue are all but numbered. In an interview with Sport-Express, the restricted free agent discussed his current contract situation, the possibility of playing in the KHL next season, and where in the NHL he’d like to play next — a sure sign that the talented winger has seen the writing on the wall.

- How is the situation with the Rangers now?

- The question of the contract remains open. I have submitted documents to the arbitration court, now my agent and I are waiting for the meeting, which will take place on July 31st. After the decision is made, it will be possible to talk about things more specifically.

- How, in your opinion, could this all end?

- If the Rangers agree to my terms — I’ll sign the contract, if not — it will be necessary to search for other options with other teams.

- Are you not surprised that problems have come up after your very good season?

- Of course I’m surprised! To tell the truth, I thought that we would come to an agreement with the club easily, because last season was one of the best in my career. In New York things actually went very well for me — I scored 58 points. Though the year before in Columbus it turned out that I collected even more points — 61.

- And how likely is it that you’ll return to Russia this summer?

- I would still like to play in the NHL, but I also haven’t ruled out the option of moving to the KHL. It’s possible that I’ll remain in the Russian league for one year, then become a free agent and have the opportunity to negotiate with any NHL team.

- What are the chances that you will play in the KHL?

- Thirty percent, no less.

- And what Russian teams have offered you a contract?

- I’ll only say that it’s 3 or 4 top clubs in the KHL. If you excuse me, I won’t name them.

- It’s no secret, that during the World Championship, you were in contact with the management of Salavat Yulaev, but you turned down an offer from that club at the time. Why?

- Well, I won’t hide it: Salavat has indeed shown interest in me. I didn’t turn the club down, I only said that for now I would like to remain in the NHL. But I didn’t speak with representatives from Ufa during the World Championship. In Switzerland all thoughts were only about the game — nobody conducted any negotiations.

- By the way, what impressions remain with you from the World Chamopionship?

- Our team won — that’s the main impression. But personally, for me, the championship — I expect you remember — was unsuccessful. Already on my second shift in the tournament I broke a finger on my hand. I was able to play two games in intense pain, and then the finger simply began to hurt intolerably — it was impossible to play in such a condition.

- During the World Championship you shared a room with Alexander Radulov. Did you speak with him about Salavat?

- We talked about various topics. Including about the KHL and about the Ufa team.

- Taking into account the upcoming Olympics, perhaps a move to Salavat Yulaev may be worth it, in order to continually be in the view of the coach of Team Russia [who also coaches Salavat]?

- I’ll repeat, I haven’t ruled out such an option. If I hadn’t filed for arbitration, it would be possible to have conversations on the subject now already. But in the present situation it’s useless. In any case, I don’t think that I’ll remain without a team (laughs).

- But nevertheless, why didn’t the Rangers do everything they could to keep you? Could it be that you don’t suit the coach?

- I don’t even know how to answer you. I didn’t hear any specific reprimands in his address. And there were no situations of conflict with the coaching staff.

- After the new head coach of the Rangers, John Tortorella, has come in, your statistics became worse than they had been over the course of the season with Tom Renney. Did Tortorella trust you less?

- That was probably one of the reasons. I admit, that I had slump — it’s impossible to play the entire season completely evenly. During that time, at times my game was off completely.

- And on what team in NHL you would like to continue your career?

- To begin with, it must be a team that has a need for me. That’s why I’ll answer your question this way: it would be nice to play on one of the teams in the division that the Rangers play in.

- To show the New Yorkers they were wrong?

- No, it is simply that when I played in Columbus, there were many long flights. It’s more interesting to play in the Atlantic Division, and you fly much less there. Accordingly, you get less tired.

- Are there any teams in the NHL that you dreamed of playing for as a child?

- Yes, I always liked Detroit.

- And could you be traded there?

- I wouldn’t exactly be against it!

- Czech forward Jiri Hudler of Detroit is planning to spend at least two seasons in the Kontinental league, and then return to the NHL. Should you not follow his example?

- It’s hard to say. By the way, when I saw the news that Jiri had signed a contract with Moscow Dynamo, I was very surprised. I even thought that something had not been translated correctly.

- Is it possible that a place for you was just opened in Detroit?

- (Laughs.) I don’t know, we’ll see.

- When and where will you start preparing for the season?

- Now in Kiev I’m keeping in shape, I run constantly. And in a few days I will arrive in Moscow. Probably, I’ll skate in Mytischi.

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14 Comments so far
Leave a comment

    He should have taken the qualifying offer. He was invisible the second half of the season and just plain didn’t show up in the playoffs. The guy is clearly clueless…

    Comment by Zen 07.14.09 @ 2:08 pm

    I still want Z in NY…. We could of already signed him if we didn’t get brashear, Arnason, etc
    He is a highly skilled player and he needs the respect

    Comment by Steve 07.14.09 @ 2:30 pm

    He is a great player, but probably is asking for way to much then he is worth right now. He has potential to become that player, but he has so much to prove before that. He was happy that he had 58 points this season, but still was more productive in columbus by a small margin with 61 points. He is young and will get the money down the road for sure. I just think he has more to prove before that.

    Comment by Stan 07.14.09 @ 2:41 pm

    he is obviously wanting revenge and may harm the team, trade him to the west, to a team that needs a shit disturber

    Comment by Adam 07.14.09 @ 7:25 pm

    why would you re-sign a guy in zherdev, who the coach hates, is selfish, and dropped a gauntlet on your team? You would be insane Sather.
    Now about Kotalik, this is what we have had for years, and it how has that fared? Become a big, aggressive team that scores goals as opposed to sitting at the blueline and waiting for them to come at you like Renney.

    Comment by Adam 07.14.09 @ 7:33 pm

    i think that is a hint if the rangers dont sign him after arb hearing, that he will go to the isles or devils. he hinted at revenge so there is no better place to do it than with the isles. they are on the way up and made no secret about adding offense, just waiting for the cap casualties and left overs. as of now they are in heated discussions with TANGUAY, i know for a fact. and maybe just maybe an offer sheet to dubinski or kessel, niether nyr or bos would be able to match and all it costs the isles is a 2nd rd pick.

    Comment by anthony 07.14.09 @ 8:59 pm

    LOL, a hint that he’ll go to the Isles or Devils? He stated quite clearly that he would like to play in the Atlantic Division because of the easy travel. He’s not the first player to say this. There’s nothing sinister here, no plots of revenge. No one suggested Shanny went to the Devils 2 years ago in order to get back at us after Slats left him in the lurch…

    And Torts “hates” him? Like he hated Vinny Lecavelier early on? I keep reading this statement, yet no one ever seems to be able to provide any proof other than “you can tell by the way he looks at him”. Come on now. Besides, a coaches job is to get the best out of his players, regardless of how he might feel about him personally. I didn’t see Slats looking to jettison Avery when Tortorella came on board, and I think Tortorella’s “hate” for Avery was pretty well documented.

    As for being invisible the second half of the season… Zherdev had 12 points in Torts first 15 games as coach. He sucked for the final 6 games and the playoffs. So please, go easy on the “half a season” hyperbole. Brandon Dubinsky had separate stretches of 19 and 24 games without a goal and people are ready to anoint him our first line center. Zherdev struggles over the last 13 games of the year and he’s garbage. Can we get a little gray to go with all this black and white?

    Comment by laurie 07.14.09 @ 11:38 pm

    Good post, Laurie, all valid points.

    That said, Z can take a hike. I was a fierce supporter of his up until the last few weeks, and this article has cemented my change of heart. Get this guy the hell out of here, we don’t need that kind of character (or lack of it) in the lockerroom. He obviously is content to be a mediocre hockey player, as long as he plays well enough to earn a paycheck.
    That’s not what we need, regardless of how much skill he has.
    Let him go to the Devils where he’ll become their problem.
    Ufck him.

    Comment by Jeff L. 07.15.09 @ 11:45 am

    Jeff L., you speak my language. I got a zherdev shirt at the start of the year because i believed the columbus would rue the day that they traded him to NY. I thought that he would be a finesse force that would take the NHL by surprise. But after his choke in the later part of the season and in the playoffs, i am off the bandwagon. Bring up Grachev in his place.

    P.S. If he stays in NY, imagine Zherdev, Kotalik, and Gaborik on a first line, (i know Kotalik isn’t a center but who gives a rats ass!)

    Comment by Adam 07.15.09 @ 2:14 pm

    Adam, while I share your enthusiasm, I also need to look at the situation objectively. Think, do you really want the attitude problems of Zherdev & Kotalik (both well documented and one witnessed first-hand already) rubbing off on Gaborik?
    Not I. I say put him on a line with Dubinsky and Grachev, or Callahan swings over and plays LW on that line. That is much more to my liking. Put him with two honest, skilled, hard-working players.

    Comment by Jeff L. 07.15.09 @ 3:27 pm

    Jeff L.,I agree with Dubinsky, because he showed he could play with anyone when he played with Jagr, who made the Rangers bring in a carousel of centers in whom he wasn’t happy with, so he would be a good fit. But because Kotalik and Gaborik share the extreme level of creativity, and they both have rockets for a shot, so that might be smart. But if they did it your way, Kotalik with play with his former linemate in Drury. Both looking like good combos. ‘09-’10 is looking like a ‘94 repeat!

    Comment by Adam 07.16.09 @ 10:56 pm

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