Nikolai Zherdev

What’s the Deal?

by AveryGod

What do these four players all have in common: Enver Lisin, Brian Boyle, Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik. They all signed new contracts to play for the New York Rangers next season and all of them were on different teams last year. That’s not even including Marion Gaborik, Donald Brashear and the other EIGHT players they’ve added to their depth chart. Why hasn’t Glen Sather made his own players a priority? Most importantly, why hasn’t Brandon Dubinsky or Nikolai Zherdev been resigned yet?

In Zherdev’s case, he’s waiting to see what will happen with his arbitration hearing on the 31st of this month. Hopefully he’ll gather his senses and realize the money he’s asking for is a tad far fetched for his inconsistencies last season. Nikolai was good enough to put up 58 points (23 goals / 35 assists) but he’s easily capable of putting up another 10 or more goal as well as assists.

Every NHL scout and Hockey columnist raves about his blazing speed, solid hands, and he was once noted has one of the best one-on-one forwards in the game. He showed Ranger fans greatness at times, but laziness throughout the entire season and playoffs.

It might have to do with the soft coaching styles of Tom Renney or the failure to adapt to John Tortorella’s more aggressive approach in such a short time. Torts’ showed his frustration by benching him on several different occasions. If he doesn’t win his arbitration case he’ll have to sign at the price that Glen Sather is offering him unless he walks or is traded before then – Editors note: the arbitration could end with the player getting what they want, the club getting what they want, or any number in between.

Because of what is happening with Zherdev, no actions have been taken to resign Brandon Dubinsky. The Rangers only have $3,242,500 left in cap space to resign Zherdev and Dubinsky. Theoretically, if Zherdev was to take Mr. Sather’s offer right now, the Rangers would have no money left to resign Brandon Dubinsky. If Dubinsky resigns before a decision or trade is done involving Zherdev, then the Rangers won’t have enough money to resign Zherdev. It’s a classic Catch-22 situation; you get one or the other, not both. That’s why many of the analysts and fans are speculating that another trade is still to come.

In Dubinsky’s first full season he posted up 40 points (14 goals / 26 assists) then 41 points (13 goals / 28 assists) in his second season. Since his start, he has been groomed and prepped to be a first line center for the New York Rangers. Unless some sort of amazing trade is pulled to bring a top line center to New York in the next two months you can expect to see Brandon centering Marion Gaborik. Personally I feel that he would flourish playing along side the Slovakian. Gaborik had a bad season last year, but he still put up 23 points (13 goals / 10 assists) in just 17 games. That’s better than almost half the Rangers roster last year that played a full season.

Rumors are starting to swirl again that Brad Richards might be making his way back into Tortorellas’ arms. Richards played like a man possessed under Torts’ during Tampa Bays’ Stanley Cup victory which resulted in him receiving the Conn Smyth trophy. The down side is that he has a cap hit of $7.8 million dollars. Plus the Rangers would probably have to sacrifice youth to acquire him.

Dubinsky would be a good fit on the top line and should be given that opportunity to play with Gaborik. It would give him tremendous knowledge and experience to take on that responsibility. As for Zherdev, I’d say resign him but only at the right price. He never got a chance to work under the new playing scheme with John Tortorella. Let him start fresh and learn from the beginning of camp. Remember when Theo Fleury came to the Rangers, he only put up 15 goals in his first season and felt ashamed of himself. Fleury stated that he would do better the next season and play like he should have. He was given that opportunity and posted up 30 goals. Maybe he would have a few more drinks before the game but what ever works, right?

To fit both Zherdev and Dubinsky, the Rangers would have to dump a large chunk of salary. Don’t even bother suggesting Redden, not even to bury him in the minors. No team would be dumb enough to take on his salary after his deteriorating seasons since the lockout. I would suggest trading Michal Rozsival for some youth or a late draft pick for next year. He as a cap hit of $5 million, which is more than enough to resign Zherdev and Dubinsky. It also opens up another roster spot for another young defenseman like Corey Potter or Michael Del Zotto.

The off-season is coming to a close quickly with question marks dangling over Dubinsky and Zherdev. I’d like to see another trade made but only if it’s to free up money or bring in another goal scorer. I’m excited to see what will happen with the arbitration hearing but I shake with joy seeing this team transform into a competitive, smarter and a more youth based franchise.

In Avery We Trust

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