Larry Brooks: Zherdev likely to leave Rangers
While we wait for the official word, which should be coming soon, Larry Brooks has some thoughts on how Zherdev plotted his own exit from NY
Zherdev could have rejected the Rangers' $3.25 million qualifier and signed in Russia. Had he done that though, the Blueshirts still would have owned his NHL rights for one more season. He could have accepted the qualifying offer, and become eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.
Instead, the 24-year-old Zherdev filed for salary arbitration off a 23-goal regular season marked by pockets of indifference and a seven-game postseason in which he was AWOL.
There are, in fact, only 22 wingers under contract for this season who will earn as much as $4.75 million, and of those, 13 are on deals they signed as unrestricted free agents or pending unrestricted free agents. Of the remaining nine, only three will be under 25 at the start of the season -- Philadelphia's Jeff Carter, Anaheim's Corey Perry and Washington's Alex Ovechkin. Zherdev isn't in their league.
Unless there is a shocker and an NHL GM is willing to give an unrestricted Zherdev a multi-year contract for anything close to $3.9 million, let alone $4.75 million, Zherdev likely will sign a lucrative deal in the KHL, and thus literally be out of Carter's, Perry's and Ovechkin's league.
I hope Larry is right about Zherdev going to the KHL, because I would hate for him to be around to just become another in a long list of players who have come back to bite the Rangers in the rear. (Kovalev, Nedved......)
As soon as the decision comes down, we'll have it for you, and it will be the hot topic of discussion tomorrow night on Blueshirt Banter Radio at 7:30 PM