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Nikolai Zherdev - By the Numbers?

One of the things that's bothered me for weeks and had become a 'burning question': how does Nik Zherdev (and/or his rep) think he's worth $4mm or more??

There've been threads on every board about him that often come down to: Keep him, give him one more year, he's got loads of talent  -or conversely - he's a lazy bum that disappeared when needed most (the playoffs) and is maddeningly inconsistent.

A lot of us seem to be either arguing from an emotional standpoint (not that that's bad - but it's hard to quantify), or from a "talent" perspective - also hard to quantify. And to be honest, I've been in both camps - swaying back and forth.

The reality is that it's a numbers game. To the team it's this: what have you (player) done for me lately - and how much is what you've done worth ?
So, I decided to go on an analysis binge (yes, there's a reason why the first four letters form another word!) - and went searching for numbers - mostly to satisfy my own curiosity.

One of the keys in the arbitration process is that the league and NHLPA agree on a list of 'comparative players'. From that list (which to the best of my knowledge is not made public), both the team and the player/rep choose who they're going to hold out as examples.

So, I looked for 'younger' players (mid-20's) who put up mid- to high- 50's in points last year - and played a forward position.
These might be some of the 'comparative players'

Player

Team

Age

Salary (09/10)

Frolov

LA Kings

27

2.9mm

Kesler

Van. Canucks

24

1.75mm

Pavelski

SJ Sharks

25

1.67mm

Stajan

Tor. Maple Leafs

25

1.75mm

Backes

Stl. Blues

25

2.5mm

Brown

LA Kings

24

3.175mm


While this is hardly an exhaustive analysis, and we have no real way of knowing who his 'comparatives' are that the arbitrators will be looking at, what certainly strikes me is that the $3.25mm supposedly in the Rangers Qualifying Offer appears not only reasonable, but generous.

Does Nik have more innate/natural talent that those listed? Possibly. Has he proven it? Absolutely not. Are there others he should be compared to? Probably - but would the results be significantly different ?

This would lead me to believe that the Rangers stand a reasonable chance of 'winning' the arbitration hearing - or at least keeping the award below $3.75mm or so. Which of course leads inevitably to the next level of speculation:

  1. Can they manage the cap to keep him at that salary/cap hit range?
  2. Will he sign or flee to the KHL if the award isn't high enough?

One thing is certain - by this time next week (August 6th/7th) - we'll have at least some of the answers.

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