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.