A report coming from Blue Notes suggests that Zherdev might follow other NHL dropouts and head back to the homeland. I say dropout because if Nikky does in fact head over to the KHL, he will be able to dominate on pure skill alone and will never need to obtain the focus and desire needed for him to reach his potential. What a waste.
However, these rumors might be a big pile of BS. It's pretty handy having Beyond The Blueshirts as apart of the Rangers blogosphere when it comes to Russian players.
A translation from the Russian website that initiated the rumors reads as follows.
According to unconfirmed information, Nikolai Zherdev, forward of the NHL club "New York Rangers", in the near future could move to one of the top clubs in the Kontinental Hockey League. As is known, this summer Zherdev becomes a free agent and therefore there are no contractual obstacles to his return to Russia.
The reports are quite contradictory to what Zherdev told the media following the Russians victory in the World Championships. Once again, Beyond the Blueshirts had the scoop.
- But you wish to extend with the Rangers?
- Yes, I do.
- And won't you return to Russia? Has Radulov not yet advertised the KHL [to you]?
- But Radulov... (smiles). No, I don't want to for the time being. I'll always have time [to play] in Russia (smiles).
But for the sake of argument, let's say that Zherdev defects. At that point the Rangers will not be able to receive any value in return for him. At the very least if they decided that he would not be apart of their future plans, they could trade him and get a pretty solid catch in return. The positive would be that the Rangers would gain more than $3.5 million in cap space since Zherdev is guaranteed at the very least a 10% raise. That space can be used to lock up Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. It also can be used to sign Nik Antropov which would serve as Zherdev's replacement.
There is nothing concrete and for all we know, the rumors might be in the same basket of an Eklund or "Scott Gomez Trade is Imminent" creation, but if it were true it really wouldn't surprise me all that much. Zherdev fits the mold for the type of Russian player who would prematurelyleave the NHL and head to the motherland.