UPDATE 5:28PM: Salavat Yulaev Ufa assistant coach Igor Zakharkin has denied his team is close to signing, or ever even considered signing, Zherdev. See Beyond the Blueshirts for more.
According to Russian sports site Championat.ru, former New York Ranger and unrestricted free agent Nikolai Zherdev may be days away from signing with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL. Citing "a source close to management" Championat reports that the contract is tentatively scheduled to be signed on Thursday and puts the probability of the 24-year old returning to Russia at "more than 90 percent".
Salavat, which is coached by Russian national team coach Vyacheslav Bykov, has been rumored as a possible destination for the forward since he played for Bykov at the World Championship in Switzerland in May.
While the idea of Zherdev signing in the KHL will come as a surprise to no one, the following line from the Championat report is likely to raise a few eyebrows:
However, the forward, who is well know to Vyacheslav Bykov, head coach of Salavat and team Russia at the last World Championship in Switzerland, has another offer from the NHL club Columbus, whose colors he defended for several years.
For a full translation of the Championat story, visit Beyond the Blueshirts.
Zherdev spent the better part of four years climbing in and out of the doghouse in Columbus, but seemed to have finally made a breakthrough of sorts in his final season under head coach Ken Hitchcock's tutelage. But the opportunity to beef up their blue line proved too enticing for the Blue Jackets, who dealt the talented but inconsistent winger to the Rangers along with Dan Fritsche for Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman last summer.
UPDATE from Jim: Nevermind, looks like everyone is just confirming that RDS is reporting it, nothing is official just yet.