In today's NY Post, Larry Brooks says that Nik Zherdev's decision to file for salary arbitration may very well signal the end of the enigmatic winger's run on Broadway.
As it was, there was debate within the organization whether to qualify Zherdev at the required $3.25 million price tag after his uneven season that frustrated both Tom Renney and John Tortorella.
Now, with Zherdev seeking a contract believed in the neighborhood of $4.5M, there's little doubt the Blueshirts would walk away from an arbitration award that's even a nickel more than $3.25M, and thus make the 24-year-old winger an unrestricted free agent.
It might open a second look at Heatley, though the Blueshirts have no more intention now than they did last week of surrendering prime young assets in order to get him. Plus, Heatley's sense of entitlement as framed by agent J.P. Barry in a recent interview with Canada's Sun Media seems excessive enough to scare anyone and everyone away.
The Rangers have held conversations with Dallas regarding Brad Richards, who has two years remaining on a contract carrying an annual $7.8M cap hit, and with San Jose concerning Patrick Marleau, who has one year to go at $6.3M on his deal, but there's no indication at this time that either player is on his way to Broadway.
This could free up another $3.25M for the Rangers to look elsewhere for scoring help. There are plenty of free agents still out there that could help the Rangers, like Tanguay, Sykora, Zubov. There's no way the Rangers should consider paying him more than the qualifying offer.