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Zherdev to Leafs?

Posted 2:40 PM ET | Comments 13
Inevitably, as soon as the Rangers decided to walk away from Zherdev the cries from Leaf Nation went up for Burke to complete his last obvious step which was to bring in another top 6 forward.

While the Leafs do have the cap space to absorb another roughly $4million a season for the 24 year old Zherdev...is it worth it?

While many would place Zherdev in the top tier of League talent his production does not coincide with his obvious natural ability.

However, the make-up of the Leafs top 6 seems to accomodate Zherdev well. However, by signing Zherdev and not trading for a top 6 the competition for jobs and NHL talent not playing further grows in the Leafs ranks.

It also limits the opportunities for youth to step into the line-up and play important minutes.

A line-up with Zherdev could possibly present what finally might be considered a 1st line:

Ponikarovsky-Grabovski-Zherdev (all former Soviet Union born talent).

The rest of the line-up might look like:

Blake-Stajan-Tlutsy
Hagman-Bozak-Kulemin
Primeau/Orr-Mitchell/Wallin-Mayers/Stempniak

As you can see the bottom lines start to get crowded and we aren't talking about the blueline which already boasts too many NHL Dmen.

So then Burke is charged with dealing NHL talent for picks or leaving them on the Marlies with waivers a real concern for liqudating talent for nothing.

That being said, does the potential former USSR line of Ponikarovsky, Grabovski, and Zherdev provide enough high end skill to create the kind of offensive presence the Leafs have lacked for a long time?

I have to think that this line would tempt Burke into offering a 3 year deal similar to Grabovski's to try and lure the young, ultra-talented top 6 player into the Leafs fold and then deal with the consequences later.

He's big, fast, strong and when he wants to play conjures up images of a young Kovalchuk...when he doesn't want to play he conjures up images of Alexei Yashin.

This is a high risk/high reward situation that merits consideration from a Leafs team currently accused of lacking the necessary skill to compete for a playoff spot. An addition of Zherdev's calibre for a 1 year- 3 year period could end up being one of Burke's wisest or weakest moves.

I believe by signing Zherdev, regardless of term or dollars, the Leafs generate an incredibly exciting top line and help the Leafs legitimately challenge for the playoffs this year.
Filed Under:   Rangers   Leafs   Toronto Maple Leafs   Zherdev  
August 4, 2009 3:21 PM ET | Delete
Good article, i disagree with the line ups a bit. Bozak will be an AHLer this year, as Mitchell is more NHL ready than him in a 3rd line role and even he is hard pressed for a roster spot. I see Wallin in 3rd line centre, with Stempniak and Hagman on the wing.
August 4, 2009 3:30 PM ET | Delete
August 4, 2009 3:44 PM ET | Delete
Nicely written. I think the Leafs have to start trading away some of their underperforming talent (Stempniak immediately comes to mind) for anything they can get their hands on.
August 4, 2009 3:59 PM ET | Delete
I agree that either way Burke should sign him. He will add talent this year, and Burke can pick up more in 10/11 free agency when he will have alot more cap room. But do you think if he moves some D men, he will also go after one more big body forward? Bertuzzi maybe?
August 4, 2009 4:07 PM ET | Delete
I'll spare the Bozak comment as you've heard it from me before. Can't imagine Stempniak sticking around should Zherdev be acquired... or perhaps even Burke could package a defenceman and a forward together to acquire a more valuable offensive piece.
August 4, 2009 4:15 PM ET | Delete
good read. Hoefully Burke can trade Stempniak and White for some scoring up front
August 4, 2009 5:40 PM ET | Delete
I dont see how so many people are down on Hagman. Hes a former 30 goal man... and an obvious 1st liner on this team. The Hagman - Grabovski - Kulemin line had flashes of brilliance last year. Hagman should be a go to guy this season.
August 4, 2009 6:00 PM ET | Delete
you right about hags we need to trade a bunch of guys still there has got to be a team who needs like 5 middle of the run guys to fill out there teamstemp stajan mayers finger van ryn all gotta move on and well blake but thats not gonna happen even tho he is id say worth the moneybring on the young guys!
August 4, 2009 9:06 PM ET | Delete
I haven't seen anyone down on Hagman... He's a talented guy who plays a very solid, two-way game... but he's not a former 30 goal man. His career high is 27 which he was poised to break last season before injuries struck.
August 4, 2009 9:27 PM ET | Delete
LOSERS SINCE 67 !!!!KEEP ALL THE OVERPAID SIVS...
August 4, 2009 10:43 PM ET | Delete
That Kulemin-Grabovski-Hagman line was great but so was Ponikarovsky with Grabovski at the end of the year. I think Hagman is the most versatile player on the Leafs and could play any line and any position but if we could sign Zherdev and then trade white and stempniak for another top 6 we'd be scary!
August 5, 2009 12:05 AM ET | Delete
Leafan89, Hagman has not once scored over 30 goals in his entire NHL career. He's a good 2nd or 3rd liner at the most.
August 5, 2009 9:34 AM ET | Delete
Yeah, I wouldn't get down on Hagman either, he's going to be a key contributor this year for sure. He was one of our best players last year also. Somewhat of an indication as to the true number 1 talent we need up front, and judging by everybody resigning we have to develop this talent essentially.
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