Posts tagged: Nik Zherdev

Non-Draft Roundup

I’ll get to the draft round up tomorrow. I want to get some specifics on the players before I post about them.

As for the rest of the Ranger news:

  • Sather made qualifying offers to most RFAs, but Fred Sjostrom was not included in that list. The notables included: Nikolai Zherdev, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Lauri Korpikoski. You can breathe a sigh of relief.
    • It’s safe to assume that Jordan Owens will be given the opportunity to take Sjostrom’s place. It’s just all business with that decision.
  • The Rangers traded a 3rd round pick in 2010 (supposed to be a thin draft) for C Brian Boyle. That pretty much spells the end for the Blair Betts era in New York. With both Sjostrom and Betts gone, there goes the best PK unit in the league.
    • Boyle, 24, is an RFA, is 6’7 250 lbs (he’s a freaking beast), and you have to assume he has been qualified. He’s a tough guy, and if he plays a full season, can give you maybe 10-10-20 at his peak. He was solid defensively in the AHL last season.
  • Paul Mara and Derek Morris won’t be back, Glen Sather is quoted saying that he has five defensemen knocking on the door (Sauer, Sangs, DZ, Potter, Gilroy). Expect one or two of them to make the team, and maybe a stay-at-home bruiser type signing.
  • Nik Antropov won’t be back, his asking price is too much. This shouldn’t shock anyone.
  • Colton Orr isn’t going to be resigned, so the entire 4th line will be different next year. This is old news, but I neglected to mention it until now.
  • We should start hearing about accepted/rejected qualifying offers before July 1. It will be a fun few days before free agency begins.

Over the next few days, I’m going to research each of the picks and write little blurbs about them. Keep checking back.

Setting the Blair Betts Market; Zherdev Rejects KHL Offer

Many people probably didn’t even look up when reading that the St. Louis Blues resigned center Jay McClement to a three-year deal worth $4.35 million. I mean, who is Jay McClement? Well, McClement is a 26 year old 4th line center that averages 10-10-20 while playing most of his time on the penalty kill. John Davidson calls him “one of the best defensive forwards”.

Hmm. A 4th line center, who excels on the penalty kill, and doesn’t score much. Doesn’t that sound real familiar?

Sure, McClement scores more than Betts, but they are essentially the same player. Is Betts worth a $1.45 million cap hit? Definitely not, and if he asks for that, let him walk. But this definitely sets the market for someone like Betts. Betts could seemingly get a cool mil a year.

If the Rangers weren’t so cash strapped, a $1 million cap hit for Betts would be a reasonable hit. But now, I don’t know. I wonder if someone in Hartford –Jordan Owens? Greg Moore?– can fill that role?

In other news, Nik Zherdev has turned down an offer to play in the KHL:

Rangers forward Nik Zherdev, a restricted free agent, has turned down an offer from KHL club Salavat Yulayev Ufa and wants to play in New York next season.

This is nothing short of fantastic news, as it is incredibly important to keep Zherdev around next year.

The Importance of Keeping Nikolai Zherdev

zherdevMuch discussion has been made about what to do with Nikolai Zherdev. Over at Blueshirt Banter, tmranger believes that Zherdev should be let go, while over at Rangers Review, inferno believes that the Rangers should keep Zherdev. I am inclined to agree with inferno, losing Zherdev would be a mistake.

A lot of Ranger fans, particularly over the messageboards/blog comments, have “what have you done for me lately” syndrome. Yes, Zherdev had a crappy playoffs, and was invisible. Put his playoff performance into a larger picture, and you realize that all Rangers not named Lundqvist and Callahan had a crappy, or inconsistent, playoffs. Yes, Zherdev coasts and doesn’t look like he’s trying some of the time, and barely plays defense, but if I remember correctly, Jagr never played defense either, and he coasted through the first half of last year. Excuse me for stereotyping, but the typical Eastern Euro (Soviet bloc) player tends to lose their concentration. Kovalev does it, Jagr does it, Khabibulin does it. Sorry guys, but this argument is nothing new. Just look at his stats, and maybe you’ll realize that having Zherdev around is just worth it, especially because of the lack of scoring this team has.

Last season, Zherdev put up 20 goals and 60 points. I would like someone here to point out who on this Rangers roster can cover for those stats. Meaning, if you say Ryan Callahan, who already scored 22 goals last season, it would mean he would need to put up an ADDITIONAL 20 goals and 40 assists. Now, a combination of players may be capable of covering for Zherdev’s numbers, sure. Callahan has the potential to put up 30 goals, and maybe 30 assists, which is a 10 goal and 10 assist increase from this past season. Dubinsky has the potential to put up 20 goals and 40 assists, which is also a 10 goal and 10 assist increase from last season. But let’s be honest, do you really think that both players are going to increase their production that dramatically? Actually, do you really think that both of them are capable of putting up those numbers at all? And to add more fuel to this, even if they both have career years, wouldn’t you rather have them put up those numbers, and have Zherdev put up his 20 and 60?

Zherdev is 24 years old, and as already discussed here, would cost around $4 million, with a minimum of a $3.5 million qualifying offer (he’s an RFA). Even with all the rumors surrounding Zherdev and Russia (there’s nothing the Rangers can do if some KHL club offers him $6 million a year), qualifying him guarantees that the Rangers get compensation if he signs an offer sheet with another NHL club. He is worth a full season under Tortorella to see if he can come close to realizing his potential. If you let him walk, it means you gave away Tyutin for nothing.

I find it amazing that people don’t even want to qualify him as an RFA. Just let him walk away, without an offer on the table. I mean, really? Come on people, that’s just retarded. The qualifying offer is 1 year at $3.5 million. For Zherdev, it’s worth it. If he signs an offer sheet, the Rangers get a 1st and a 3rd round pick. If not, he’s a a 20/60 guy for $3.5 million. That’s market value.

Zherdev is one of the few affordable scoring options out there. It just works.

Russia Wins, Zherdev Breaks Hand

Two games before Russia beat Canada in the World Championship Finals, Rangers winger (and RFA) Nikolai Zherdev broke his hand. You can read the translated article at Beyond the Blueshirts.

Off topic, finding a Russian-English translator online is tough. Nothing seems to translate properly.

Back on track, this doesn’t really affect the Rangers on the negotiating table. Broken bones heal, and this one will only take two weeks to heal. He’s still going to require a minimum of $3.55 million to resign (mandatory 10% raise for all qualifying offers to RFAs, check the ‘Understanding The Cap’ page for more deatils). We shall see how Sather handles this.

Zherdev, Russia Beat Denisov, Belarus

Nikolai Zherdev and Team Russia beat Team Belarus in the World Championship Quarterfinals yesterday, spelling the end of Ranger prospect Vladimir Denisov’s World Championship hopes. Zherdev had two shots on goal and was even in the win, playing 10:23 of ice time.

Russia meets the USA in the semi finals.

Rangers Sign Jordan Owens; Zherdev in Worlds

As per Carp, the Rangers have signed Jordan Owens. The 23 year-old winger played in Hartford last year, registering 12 goals and 37 points.

This is a pure Wolfpack signing, don’t expect this kid to ever make it to the Rangers.

As for more, well, relevant Rangers, Nikolai Zherdev is currently playing in the 2009 World Championships in Switzerland. In two games, he has an assist and is +2. He is playing with former whipping boy Ranger Dmitri Kalinin, who is 2-2-4 and +4 in 6 games. Also on the club is Alexander Radulov, who in 6 games is 3-3-6 and +5. Maybe Zherdev can help recruit Radulov back to the US and to the Rangers? I would love it.

Poll: Which Nik?

With the offseason upon us, the Rangers, and GM Glen Sather, have a very difficult choice ahead of them. Do they go with Nik Antropov, or Nik Zherdev? Let’s analyze this a bit:

Zherdev
Pros: Younger, has the ability to be a superstar, great hands, more on the faster side, should come relatively cheap and probably for two years max.
Cons: Sometimes looks apathetic, work-ethic always in question, enigmatic, disappeared in the playoffs.

Antropov
Pros: Entering his prime, huge body, mroe devloped offensive upside, more consistent.
Cons: Definitely more expensive and will require more years, never really met his potential in Toronto or NY, not as fast as one might want a top winger to be.

It’s a tough choice, and you know the Rangers will only have the ability to sign one of them. Considering the cap room, or lack thereof, I would go Zherdev. This should spark a nice debate. The poll is on the right. Fire away.

Finals Thoughts and a Recap on a Season on the Brink

I allowed myself to decompress for 24-48 hours after the Rangers season officially ended to talk about what happened.  Much like a legendary player being asked to retire when he’s ousted from the playoffs, you have to sift through your emotions before you give an honest assessment of things.  100% agree with Dave that the better team won this series, but ironically, I thought the Rangers were the better team for the most part in Game 7.  The game itself was a microcosm of the the Blueshirts season and series:  strong to start, treading water in the middle, and plagued by an inability to score and create chances in the end.  This team truly gave their all in the final game though, and that makes the sting a bit more bearable.  Now that the smoke has cleared, it has become obvious to me (and hopefully all of you) that John Tortorella got the most out of a team that has seemingly zero offensive firepower, and the fact that he got them to claw all the way into the playoffs says a lot about the type of coach he can be for this franchise.

So now that the sting is starting to subside, lets take a look back on the highs and lows of this season, and what’s to come from the 89 games:

HIGHS

-The Blueshirts got off to a fantastic start, going 10-2-1 in the month of October and staking themselves to a huge early lead in the Eastern Conference

-Three players had their numbers retired: Harry Howell (3), Andy Bathgate (9), and Adam Graves (9)

-Tom Renney and his stale style of hockey were finally replaced by John Tortorella’s aggressive attack, making for a much more efficient and relatively exciting Rangers team to watch.

-The Rangers re-acquired Sean Avery off waivers from the Dallas Stars, adding the edge that the team needed down the stretch.

-Henrik Lundqvist gave no doubt to the fact that he is easily one of the top 3 goalies in the world today

-After falling out of the playoff picture in late February/early March, the Rangers made a remarkable turn around, headlined by John Tortorella’s coaching, to finish 7th in the Eastern Conference standings.  The team had several key wins down the stretch to jump into the playoffs.

-Nik Antropov and Derek Morris were acquired via trade at the deadline, and provided some size and stability to their respective positions.

-The combination of Blair Betts and Frederik Sjostrom (throw Hank in there if you’d like) emerged as the best penalty killing unit in the NHL.

-While maybe not necessarily a high, Markus Naslund provided exactly what was expected of him: a 20-25 goal season and consistency up front.

LOWS

-The start of 2009 brough no joy to the Rangers, as they started to collapse under the Tom Renney regime.  The low-point was highlighted by a 10-2 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Stars, and ultimately would signify the end of the Renney era.

-The tragic death of top-tier prospect Alexei Cherapanov cast a shadow over the Rangers future.

-Nikolai Zherdev’s did not provide the 30+ goal output that many believed it would, and the youngster crumbled in his first post-season

-The offseason acquistion of Wade Redden was nothing but a complete disaster.

- Michael Roszival’s absurd contract extension (mainly its length) is beginning to rear its ugly head, and the combination of Redden and Roszival’s salaries and contract length will plague this franchise for years to come.

-The power-play never amounted to anything, under both coaches, and has been the most pressing issue since the lockout ended.

-An inability to provide consistent offense or any offensive threat whatsoever doomed this team as the season progressed

-Leading 3-1 in their opening round playoff series, the Blueshirts fell apart when it mattered most, a series headlined by the suspension of John Tortorella for Game 6

-Versus continues to cover the NHL

WHATS TO COME

-Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Lauri Korpikoski, Sean Avery, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi will be the core of this team under the John Tortorella regime.  The new coach must also find the right players for his style of play, as it became obvious that the current group cannot provide the type of play Tortorella would like to play.

-Blair Betts, Frederik Sjostrom, Colton Orr, and Nik Antropov MUST be re-signed.  Betts and Sjostrom combine to be the best PK tandem and 4th line in the league.  Orr is the best fighter in the NHL, and you still need at least one of them on your team.  Antropov provides much needed size and scoring touch going forward.

-Markus Naslund, with only one-year remaining, should be dealt somewhere.  The aging forward, once considered the best two-way player in the NHL, did not thrive in Tortorella’s system.

-Time for Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to finally step up and take the reigns as the elder statesmen on this team.  The honeymoon is over boys.

-Say goodbye to Paul Mara (regretably), Nik Zherdev, and Derek Morris.  In addition, Sather must find a way to part ways with either Redden or Roszival, either through a buy-out or trade.

-Its time for the Rangers projects and farm system to step-up and become elite players in the league.  This includes players currently on the team (who have now played in enough tight playoff series) and players in their farm system (who up until this point have done nothing but be talked about).  History shows that free-agent/trade acquisitions don’t do it for this team, and the home-grown talent must finally rise to the top.

-If they are going to keep him for the next 3 seasons, the organization must get on the league’s case about the officiating bias towards Sean Avery.  While he is no saint, the abuse this guy takes on a nightly basis is absolutely absurd.  Game 7 was just an example.  Generally speaking, the officiating around the league in general must change, as these ticky-tack calls are making even the most die-hard hockey fan’s head spin.

-While no fault falls on him, Henrik Lundqvist must find a way to be better than spectacular come playoff time.  I’m talking god-like, all the time.  If you want to know what I’m looking for, see Giguere for the Ducks and Khabibulin for the Lightning.

-The power-play can no longer be the Achilles heel of this team.  Either through someone currently on the team stepping up or by acquiring someone via free agency or trade that can FINALLY do it themselves, the Rangers must learn to capitalize on the opportunities provided.

-Whatever the makeup of this team comes to be, they have to find a way to be consistently good all season long.  The continuous ebb and flow of the Rangers the past few seasons has come back to haunt them in the playoffs, as the lack of home-ice advantage has made things very difficult.

Whew.  I’m sure there are plenty of things here that plenty of you agree/disagree with.  I’m pretty sure there are plenty of things that I missed and will think about later.  It was a crazy season for so many reasons, and to try to cover it all would take weeks and months.  I’d like to hear about what you all have to say about the Rangers season, and what you think should/shouldn’t happen as the organization moves forward.  Either way, this has been a very enjoyable experience, and I’m looking forward to adding thoughts and insight to a team I love so much.

Sloppy Play Leads to Game 7

The Rangers were dominated in today’s game too, thus allowing Washington to gain all the momentum they will need heading back to DC for Game 7. They came out strong, but had the life sucked out of them after Hank got beat on the short side, twice. It looked like they just gave up after Poti scored on the 3-on-1.

I’m all in favor of benching Nik Zherdev right now. Stas brought up a very valid point when we were talking about the Avery suspension, Zherdev does nothing but give the puck away and miss empty nets. He has been downright awful, and really screwed himself over for the offseason. It’s his contract year and he sucked it up since 2009 began. So much for him getting the deal comparable to Erat/Roy/Brown. He’s not the only one missing empty nets (Naslund), but I’m singling him out because he has been downright atrocious. He’s been almost as bad as….

The officiating in the NHL Playoffs over the past years has been terrible. I’m trying to stay away from select four-letter words, and it’s really tough to do so. How can you give Dubinsky 14 minutes for the hit on Green, and give Brashear 2 minutes for his hit on Betts? The hit on Betts can end someone’s career. Ask Brett Lindros. Or hell, ask Eric Lindros. Elbows to the head alter careers. The refs should at least call the game consistently. Bettman should be ashamed of himself for what he has turned this game into. This is why no one takes hockey seriously. But I digress. This officiating issue is a topic that most Ranger fans already know.

With Betts’ concussion (assumed), I’m guessing Artem Anisimov will be called up to take his place in Game 7.

But hey, let’s end this on some positive notes: Dubi and Cally had strong games. Gomez decided to show up in the first period, two PPGs, and it looks like they’ve solved Varlamov, for now.

Game 7 on Tuesday.

On to NY….

Well that sucked. The Rangers were just awful tonight. They came out flat, took soft penalties (a ton of them), allowed shorthanded goals. I mean, what else is there to say? They were dominated. They did everything they did in Game 3. Varlamov wasn’t really challenged until the 3rd period, and now has two (TWO!) shutouts in the playoffs in four games. This was tough to watch, and it got real ugly in the 3rd.

Has anyone heard from or seen Scott Gomez? What about Nik Zherdev? If anyone has seen or heard from them, please let the Rangers know. They have no idea where they have gone. They are key players that need to show that they exist and care on the ice. This team has not gotten any pressure on a 22 year old rookie playing in elimination games, and Gomez, as a team leader, should be one of the people leading the charge in getting pucks to the net. They need to get some sustained offense. AND STAY OUT OF THE EFFING BOX!!! HOLY CRAP!! Hooking, tripping, holding, it’s all lazy hockey. It’s pathetic.

That Ovechkin goal was just silly. The man is a highlight reel every time he touches the puck.

A few positives: Dubi had another strong game, as did Cally, Staal and Girardi. These four usually seem to be the only consistent players that have strong games when the rest of the team stinks. Also, good move by Torts pulling Hank in the 3rd. He was exhausted, and it showed.

As for sitting Avery, I agree with the move. The Avery fanatics won’t, but be realistic, he wouldn’t have made a difference in this game. We know Voros isn’t an upgrade over Avery (they should have called up someone from Hartford), but Avery needed to sit for almost costing the Rangers Game 4. I don’t care what anyone says, this game is still a Caps domination with Avery or without him.

Game 6 back at the Garden on Sunday. Let’s hope the Rangers come out like they got nothing to lose.