Unrestricted free agent Nikolai Zherdev remains a man without a team as August draws to a close and NHL teams prepare to open their training camps on September 12th.
For the past few weeks, the former New York Ranger has been preparing for the upcoming season in Moscow with Atlanta Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk and Ottawa Senators prospect Ilya Zubov, under the watchful eye of Kovalchuk’s long-time trainer Alexander Troshin.
Sovietsky Sport’s Pavel Lycenkov was on hand at the trio’s training session last week with the assignment of interviewing Kovalchuk for a feature that will appear in Tuesday’s paper (see it online here). Before he talked with Russia’s likely Olympic team captain, Lycenkov took a moment to ask Zherdev if he’d found himself a new team yet. The 24-year old forward simply shook his head, replying “negotiations are ongoing.”
In his story, Lycenkov also mentions rumors connecting Zherdev to Kovalchuk’s club in Atlanta. Those rumors first appeared in the Russian press over the weekend, starting on Sports.ru and later appearing in Sport-Express. Both outlets attributed the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as the source for their information. The Sport-Express article even provided a quote, which comes from a post on the AJC blog Ice Man – A fan’s perspective of the Thrashers. The post, about Thrasher center Todd White, includes the following line, which serves as the basis for both Russian stories: “However, if certain rumors are true and Atlanta brings in, say, Nikolai Zherdev…then that would shuffle things around on the top two lines. Kovy, Antropov and Zherdev could very well be your first line…”
This wouldn’t be the first time that a Zherdev rumor raced around the the globe, picking up strength and validity as it crossed the ocean. So when you read reports in the North American press on Tuesday citing Russian sources for a rumor stating the Trashers are interested in Zherdev, keep in mind where the scuttlebutt started.
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