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"Blueline Blast"
NJ • 29 Years Old • Male
Nikolai Zherdev has been the Rangers' best forward in 08-09. So far he has 11 goals and 20 assists for a total of 31 points in 35 games. This is a good thing for the Rangers, right? Right now it is.

Zherdev is set to be a restricted free agent at the end of this season. At age 24, he has a bright future and could be the face of the New York Rangers organization for years to come - that is, if they can afford him.

Currently, the Rangers have about $41 million tied up in 10 players for the 2009-10 season. Brandon Dubinsky, Zherdev, Lauri Korpikoski, Fred Sjostrom, Nigel Dawes and Ryan Callahan will all be restricted free agents. Colton Orr, Paul Mara, and Steve Valiquette will be unrestricted free agents. Assuming the cap stays at around $56 million (which is no guarantee in this economy), the Rangers have $15 million to sign these 10 players - as well as fill the spots that will be left when Dan Fritsche and Dimitri Kalinin leave town.

If Zherdev continues to produce points at this pace, he'll likely command a substantial salary increase from the $2.5 million he makes this year. Rangers fans will tell you that it is absolutely necessary to lock this guy up - but Glen Sather has to have considered the alternative: letting Zherdev walk for compensation.

As a Rangers fan, I want to see #13 in Rangers blue for the next several years. However, I also know that our farm system has been depleted from the death of star forward Alexei Cherepanov and the graduation of contributing players Marc Staal, Nigel Dawes, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, and Lauri Korpikoski.

If Zherdev were to be signed to an offer sheet this summer, you have to believe the salary would be least $5.3 million per year - which if unmatched, would yield the Rangers two 1st round draft choices, one 2nd rounder, and a 3rd rounder. And if it's over $6.54 million? That's four (four!) 1st rounders.

Anybody who has followed the Rangers over the past 15 years can tell you an obvious truth: draft picks are never a certainty. But for a team that went from #8 in the 07-08 Hockey's Future organizational rankings to the 20's this season, bolstering the farm has to be a consideration. Add in the cap hell Sather is about to face and it becomes more than that.

If you thought the Rangers needed to shed cap to acquire Mats Sundin, just wait until what they're going to have to do this summer to keep one of their key pieces in place.
Filed Under:   Zherdev   Sather   Rangers   C4LL4W4Y  
December 18, 2008 2:02 PM ET | Delete
Good job man..I like your thought process regarding this issue..What do you think about Dubinsky? He had a great start to the season but has slowed down significantly, and while he won't be demanding anything near what Zherdev is, it will sure be more than his current salary..I'm sure there will be many teams interested in Dubinsky's services on their team..
December 18, 2008 3:16 PM ET | Delete
Dubinsky is more likely to get an offer sheet (lower total salary thus less compensation), but I doubt it will ever get there. I'm sure Sather will try to negotiate his salary after January 1 and take it from there. The economic conditions really throw everything up in the air. I don't know what to expect when it comes to long term negotiations, other than there probably won't be as many of them as there were in the past. If I were an agent I'd want my player hitting free agency when the economy started to turn up. Too bad nobody knows when that will be.
December 18, 2008 5:37 PM ET | Delete
I really doubt anyone is going to sign Zherdev to an offer sheet worth $5.3m, unless he puts up 75 points this season.
December 18, 2008 6:47 PM ET | Delete
He's projected to put up 73 right now.
December 18, 2008 7:00 PM ET | Delete
great post...much better than the garbage some rangers fans put up here about wanting to trade the entire team to sign sundin, which we thankfully can no longer do
December 18, 2008 8:18 PM ET | Delete
Zherdev would look GREAT in an Islanders jersey!!!
December 18, 2008 11:26 PM ET | Delete
sather is going to have to really work some magic come the off season, but you are forgetting prucha and his 1.6, which will open an additional slot to the cap...the real problem lies within their big contracts, and unfortunately one will have to go, trading drury and gomez are not options no matter how much people want them to be, i doubt nazlund would be traded, especially since he is only going to make 2 mil next year, and we all know it is treasonous to think Lundqvist would be traded...thank god girardi was locked up at 2.5 a year when he didn't realize how solid a d-man he was going to become...that leaves the odd men out at Redden and Rozsival, and I don't see either one being attractive options for other teams...i suppose Rozsival could be waived in favor of bringing up some kids, but unless Redden has some sort of miraculous turn of events he isn't going to carry much weight unless they do something drastic like call the Islander's GM for the first time in 40 years....that would never happen because they real kaboosh on all of this is Redden has a fixed no trade clause...
December 19, 2008 8:43 AM ET | Delete
I see Redden being waived before Rozsival, but neither is a likelihood. Redden should still be given a chance to adapt to Renney's defensive system. He's had a poor go of it so far, but the $6.5 million he's owed each year is going to force us to have some patience.
December 19, 2008 12:08 PM ET | Delete
Hey BrandnewDream, Its a given a team will offer up 6mil for Zherdev, the guy is amazing and look at the offers made over the last few years
December 19, 2008 3:57 PM ET | Delete
Please refer to guys such as C.Huet, M.Ryder and M.Streit and you'll understand why it is very likely that a guy like Zherdev will get an offer of 5m . RFAs and UFAs make GMs go crazy...
December 20, 2008 12:47 PM ET | Delete
While I agree that Zherdev is an excellent player and was a steal in the offseason, he is also very tempermental (as we have seen in Columbus). He seems to be right at home in NY (possibly due to Brooklyn's cozy Russian population) and any GM looking to throw and offer sheet at him should think twice. If this guy isn't happy with his surroundings, then he's not going to play to his full potential.
December 21, 2008 2:27 PM ET | Delete
Many teams are already in cap trouble, so there would only be maybe one or two teams who have the money to sign him and don't want to risk their future. Their might be none who Zherdev would accept. And this could mean Zherdev could move back home to the KHL, and he could make a lot of money. This would mean no compensation, and a great young player walks. Teams will be looking at Zherdev, but compensation kinda draws them away.
December 21, 2008 2:27 PM ET | Delete
Message Posted
December 22, 2008 2:57 AM ET | Delete
looking at the guys who make $5.3m per, almost every single forward has MUCH more potential than zherdev. the vast majority are point-per-game guys, and those who aren't (smyth, richards, drury, to name a few) are paid for other things besides production. in m. richards' case, he still hasn't topped out offsensively. Not to say that Zherdev has, but I think he's more like Kovalev in that he's inconsistent, and I don't think a team will pony up that much cash.
December 22, 2008 3:05 AM ET | Delete
To add to my post, look at the names! Getzlaf, Perry, Nash, Richards, Sakic, Kariya, Havlat, Elias, Smyth, Marleau, Kovalchuk, Gaborik, Briere, Datsyuk, Lecavalier, Iginla, Spezza, Drury, Vanek, Thornton, Gomez, Hossa, Heatley, Richards, Crosby, Ovechkin. 26 names, and most of them are ELITE. Zherdev is a guy who has scored over 60 points just once. Combine that with the threat of A) the cap going down, B) him going back to Russia, and C) the four first round picks as compensation, and the chances of him getting an offer of more than $5.3m per season are slim. That's my opinion, at least.
December 22, 2008 8:55 AM ET | Delete
The tricky thing about saying a player is 'inconsistent' at age 24 is that you don't have much to go on. Zherdev has a ton of talent and has the capability to be better than a PPG player, especially on a team that has some semblance of a power play. However, this is all yet to be seen.
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