The silly season starts early in Russia, and along with rampant speculation about the future of Jaromir Jagr (one report last week had his agent Jaroslav Zidek negotiating with SKA St. Petersburg) comes an interesting tidbit from newly appointed Team Russia assistant coach Andrei Nazarov, who was in Newark last week when the Rangers were in town to face the Devils.
In an interview in Sport Express, published Monday, Nazarov revealed that New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather asked him for his opinion on three players from the KHL which he claims the Rangers are interested in. “After the game in Newark I had a long conversation with the President of the Rangers, founder of the Edmonton dynasty of the 1980s, Glen Sather,” Nazarov shared. “He asked my expert opinion on three hockey players from the KHL which the Rangers seek to acquire.”
Prompted to reveal the identities of those players, Nazarov refused. “I’m sorry, but Sather insisted that I keep their names secret,” the veteran of 571 NHL games and current coach of KHL club Traktor Chelyabinsk replied.
The Rangers do have three prospects who’s rights they currently own playing in the KHL — Ivan Baranka, Pavel Valentenko and Mikhail Pashnin — but Nazarov’s comment seems to suggest the players in question are players who’s rights the Rangers do not yet own.
The article’s author, Igor Larin, fuels speculation by including the the following (unsourced) note after Nazarov’s comment: “According to some reports, the president of the Rangers is interested in Nikolai Zherdev from Atlant.”
That remark is likely to be met with mixed reactions by Rangers fans. A year ago Zherdev was the co-leader in scoring in New York, but a late season scoring slump cast a pall over that accomplishment. Once the season ended, the Rangers extended a $3.2 million qualifying offer to the restricted free agent, only to have Zherdev turn it down and take the team to arbitration. When the arbitrator awarded the Ukranian-born winger a $3.9 million, one year deal, the club opted to walk away.
In a separate Sport Express article, published Friday, Alexander Shapiro confirms that Zherdev will attempt to return to the NHL next season. He also reports that three NHL teams are interested in the 25-year old forward and that each sent representatives to scout him over the course of the season.
Last summer’s arbitration award essentially priced Zherdev out of the NHL, leaving him no choice but to sign a one year contract with KHL club Atlant. After his one year sabbatical, if he expects to return to the NHL next season — with any team — it’s likely he’ll have to do so for less than the original $3.2 million offer the Rangers extended last summer.
Zherdev finished his season in the KHL with 13 goals and 26 assists for 39 points, ranking him third on his club behind league scoring champion Sergei Mozyakin and former NHLer Jan Bulis. Atlant’s season ended earlier this month when it lost its five game, first round playoff series to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Zherdev earned a single assist in four playoff games.
So Rangers fans… would you take him back?
16 Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment