Zherdev confirms Atlanta rumors
Wednesday September 02nd 2009, 8:14 am
Photo: Sport-Express

Photo: Sport-Express

So maybe I was a little quick to dismiss those rumors linking Nikolai Zherdev to the Atlanta Thrashers on Monday.  In an interview with Sport-Express today the unrestricted free agent reports that his agent is currently talking with several NHL teams — including the Thrashers — and that Atlanta is his preferred destination.

- What’s the situation with your future?

- Negotiations are underway with several teams, but for the time being I’m in limbo — no contract has been signed.  I hope that everything will be settled in the next 2-3 days.

- Is it possible to say that you’ll definitely remain in the NHL?

- Yes, now it’s only a matter of NHL clubs.  With Russian teams the question is closed.

- In the North American press there is conjecture that you could be excellent in combination with Kovalchuk and Antropov in Atlanta.

- The most serious dialog goes on with the Thrashers.  It’s true there are other options.  But personally I would like to end up in Atlanta, where several good Russian players play.  It would be comfortable and pleasant to play with them.

- Have you already talked to Kovalchuk about this topic?

- I’m actively preparing for the season with him now, and of course I asked him about the city and the conditions on the team.  Ilya, naturally, invites me to Atlanta with all his might (laughs). The company could indeed turn out to be first class.  As you know I played last season with Antropov on the Rangers, we even shared a room [on the road].  And there’s also Vyacheslav Kozlov.  Most likely, I’ll sign a contract with the Thrashers for one year — to begin with, it’s necessary to familiarize myself [with the team/city].

- Are you not surprised that the national team coaches have not invited you to the Olympic camp in Moscow, where they have summoned all the strongest players in the country?

- Nobody spoke with me about this topic. I simply didn’t see my name on the list.

- They say that you refused to join [Vyacheslav] Bykov on Salavat.  Could it be that this influenced the decision of the national team coaching staff? [Ed. note: Bykov is the head coach of both Salavat Yulaev Ufa and the Russian National team]

- No one invited me to Ufa personally.

- You turned out to be the only one of the Russians who came to the last world championship in Switzerland after elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Is it not insulting that you’re not appreciated for that?

- It’s difficult for me to explain the whole situation.  After the world championship I didn’t communicate with Bykov and [assistant coach Igor] Zakharkin at all, since I went to my parents’ in Kiev.

- Your friend Sergei Mozyakin, a two-time world champion, was also not invited to the camp.

- I called him up, and we discussed this issue.  The same thing happened with Sergei as with me — he wasn’t given any explanation for why he wasn’t summoned to the national team.  But my desire to get to the Olympics remains. I’ll play to prove my right to go to Vancouver.  And if I find myself on a line with Kovalchuk, play good hockey, and get to the Olympics, I will consider next season successful (laughs).

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Filed under: Nikolai Zherdev

7 Comments so far
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    If Kovy and Antropov are on the 1st line with Little and the Kozlov with Zherdev are on the 2nd(and another good young prospect, forgot his name), Atlanta might have very skilled two lines. That’s even without their this year pick – Evander Kane. If anyone can – both Kozlov and Kovy could knock some sense into both Zherdev and Antropov.

    Comment by Kovazub94 09.02.09 @ 1:33 pm

    I want to think that if anyone can get through to him, Kovalchuk can. But I thought the same of Fedorov when Columbus brought him in…

    Comment by laurie 09.02.09 @ 9:36 pm

    I wish people would quit judging Niky for what the media portrays him at. He is a very well spoken young man with an uncanny ability who sees setbacks just like any young player would. I hope the Thrashers give him a chance to believe in himself again. Good Luck Niky! I’m always rooting from you even if it is from Columbus!

    Comment by corinne 09.02.09 @ 11:56 pm

    Corinne, if this is “a stone” in our direction then you should know that Laurie and I were one of Zherdev’s biggest supporters throughout. But you have to be honest as well and try to explain how such a talented, young and skilled UFA can’t find a home so late in the off-season?

    Comment by Kovazub94 09.03.09 @ 12:15 pm

    it’s pretty easy to explain. all the money and the cap room is all gone. alex tanguay, who has 4 70-pt seasons in his career and a stanley cup and was a ufa for much longer than zherdev, just got signed last week at a fraction of his previous salary. if the rangers never qualified zherdev and he became a ufa on july 1, i think it’s fair to say he would not be still unsigned. though you never know. im hoping he catches on in atlanta, they would have a pretty skilled group of forwards.

    Comment by rajeev 09.03.09 @ 2:37 pm

    rajeev, you missing my point – Zherdev is not signed because he priced himself out of his market range. If he agreed to the qualified amount – he wouldn’t be on the market right now desperately seeking a new team. As it looks right now Zherdev should be very happy if anyone signs him for that and he should totally forget $3.9 let alone $4.5 m he was seeking. Firing his agent should be his first priority for either letting him or even inducing him down this road.
    P.S. I don’t know what was the hold up with Tanguay but I’m sure it has to do with what was perceived as a serious shoulder injury and how much his July 1st asking price was…

    Comment by Kovazub94 09.04.09 @ 12:26 pm

    it’s not just about price though. it has as much to do with with when he was able to price himself and enter the market – not until august. i agree, there was a serious miscalculation on the part of hi agent, yes he made a good play to get nik to ufa status, but becoming a ufa in a league that is significantly over bought – meaning teams have allocated too much money to too few players, and are now up against the cap or their internal budgets, leaving their rosters top heavy and leaving many proven nhl players without contracts, e.g. afinogenov, sykora, m.a. bergeron, skoula, betts, peca, comrie, etc. – is not an enviable position. zherdev def priced himself out of the rangers’ plans, though i dont think he realistically thought the rangers were going to resign after the coaching change and playoff debacle. if zherdev became a ufa on july 1, i think the odds are a lot smaller that he would still be a ufa right now. the money and cap space around the league is simply all gone. i agree, it was a tactical error. if he really wanted to stay in ny, or if he really wanted at least 3.25 mil, he should have just taken the qualifying offer. i cant imagine he had too much fun playing 14 min a night for tortarella though.

    Comment by Rajeev 09.08.09 @ 10:37 am

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