On Friday, the New York Rangers will have an arbitration hearing against Nikolai Zherdev, in my opinion, the Rangers best offensive weapon from last year, to determine how much Zherdevs' next contract will be worth. Here is the low-down on what I've read. From Larry Brooks of the Post: "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."
Why Zherdev? Well there are quite a few reasons. See instead of talking to "Sources" or scouts I actually read a few Rangers comments. They have seen him play the most last year, and this is what they had to say about Zherdev.
-Tremendous talent on the puck.
-Skates with explosive strides
-Best one-on-one players
-One of the best offensive players on a bad offensive team
-Offensive skills and upside are just too much to pass up
Of course there were some negative feedback which I found.
-"Lazy attitude" work ethic
-Disappears for shifts and whole stretches of games
When there was a poll conducted by the Daily News: Keep 'em or Dump 'em?, Zherdev was dumped off the team by 63 percent.
So why should the Islanders sign him to a contract? Here are a few:
-First and foremost, he can score goals, maybe a lot more if put in the right environment
-He has the potential to be a top line winger (can play both sides)
-He has the speed that is required of Scott Gordons system
-Despite not being solid defensively, Zherdev was a plus 6, second only to Ryan Callahan (+7).
-He's a 4th overall pick in the 2003 draft, 24 years of age, and is at the right age for the youth movement.
-If his arbitration is over 3.25 million but below 4 million, he may come at a cheaper discount than say Tanguay (reports of 4-5 million) and Comrie (4 million contract last year).
-It would plug up a first line hole, until Petrov is slated to join the NHL.
-The Islanders could boast a very fast, young, and potentially play as a spoiler team that would at least make trouble for the bubble teams this upcoming year. Maybe knock a few off this year.
The Islanders should at least look into Zherdevs request, and if the money is right, should take a gamble on a player with a lot of potential, and nothing to lose along with a number one pick in Tavares, a future scorer in Okposo, a playmaker in Bailey, enough goaltending to steal a few games, and a group of young players that are waiting to make their mark as Islanders. If you're a fan, you want something like this to fall on the Islanders lap. We wait for Friday.