Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...
The day has arrived for Nicky Zherdev's arbitration hearing, and the hockey world is abuzz with speculation. The arbitration process of setting player salaries is comparable to my method of predicting the Oilers future. Only instead of me dumping a bag of chicken bones on an Oilers logo, a judge dumps a bag of chicken bones on the players backside. Then a Pagan mating ritual is performed, the lawyers for the player and team sing Kumbaya, and the court documents are burned in an EZ Bake oven. If the smoke is white, the arbitration decision is final.
Is it really going to matter what the decision will be? The Rangers will be trading Zherdev to someone. They have to. Currently with roughly $8.5 mil of cap room and numerous players, including Brandon Dubinsky, left to sign, Zherdev is to become the odd man out in New York.
There has been a suggestion that the Rangers could simply let Zherdev go if the arbitration decision is too high. Ummmm, no. Not gonna happen. While Zherdev is the subject of much slander and ridicule over his defensive zone abilities and suggested lack of motivation, there are many, many teams in need of offense. The NHL gunslinger is not much unlike many of the painters and musicians of the Renaissance period: Rare, creative, a bit insane, but always in demand. Nicky's dysfunction will be tolerated in the name of scoring goals.
Speaking of a Renaissance, Zherdev would be the perfect fit for the Oilers. For one thing, he'll likely be overpaid by the end of the day. He'd fit right in with Horcoff and Penner. But seriously, who aside from Hemsky on the Oil has the offensive artistry Zherdev could bring? Ask any Oiler fan why the team lost so many one goal games last season, and they'll tell you that there was not enough Hemsky's to go around. When they needed a goal, they never seemed able to get it. If you consider last season's performance and the roster holes still existing on the team, adding Zherdev definitely wouldn't make things worse. I say, stick Zherdev on a line with Horcoff and Hemsky, and see what happens.
But who could go the other way for Zherdev? Ummm, my mind was in the gutter for a second. I almost wrote who COULD go the other way with Zherdev. For that article, look for my posting on the OUTmagazine website. Yes, who would the Oilers send to the Rangers. Right now, the Rangers like two things: They like the word "peppy" and they like the word "cheap." Peppy and cheap. Likely it would be two players and a pick, with no player earning more than $2mil in salary. My guess? Smid, Schremp and a 2nd round pick. Smid is looking to sign a three-year deal with the Oilers at $1.5mil per season cap hit. Schremp, an American from New York state who is also a RFA, could likely be signed at $750k. And 2nd round picks are free, low calorie and very tasty. In respect the Schremp, if the Oilers don't move him, they must play him or he'll likely be picked up through waivers when sent to Springfield of the AHL.
All of this being said, if the Oilers were to move 2 for 1, they'd still have way too many players under contract. The surprise signing of Liam Reddox added to the forward log jam, but at least Reddox and Potulny who signed contracts the same day have two-way deals. Hmmm...two way? Yet another discussion for Outmagazine. I don't care what gender the forwards on the Oilers prefer; the team still needs to make some deals.
In other news, there have been conflicting reports about Phil Kessel's availability from Boston, as some claim the Bruins are trying to make cap room to keep him. Sportsnet posted this morning that Jiri Hurdler was awarded a two-year deal worth $5mil in arbitration, but he is still being claimed by the KHL. Weird. Why go to arbitration if you plan on signing with a different league? Oh, and the Hossa signing with Chicago may have tip toed around the CBA rules, and the Hawks could be in some trouble. Shame, shame, shame, shame, shame on you Marian. This never would have happened if you took the $63 million the Oilers offered you last year.