Rangers let Zherdev walk…

By , August 4, 2009 11:32 am
Nikolai Zherdev

Nikolai Zherdev

The New York Rangers have made their decision on Nikolai Zherdev, and much to no one’s surprise, they have let Zherdev go.

Zherdev becomes an unrestricted free agent. Do the Oilers go after him? Jim Matheson stated in the Edmonton Journal today that Tom Renney “hasn’t enthusiastically gone to bat” for Zherdev.

There are suggestions that Zherdev will likely get passed up by the NHL GMs and will take a luctrative contract with a KHL team instead. No rumors of any actual contract offers have surfaced, but it’s only a matter of time. You know if your former coach on a team in dire need of an offensive threat doesn’t want you, that’s a bad sign.

26 Responses to “Rangers let Zherdev walk…”

  1. Hockey Noob says:

    Hmm. Yeah, Zherdev as an UFA doesn’t seem to fit with Tambelleni’s mantra of moving bodies, contracts, and salary I guess. Like Hudler, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a KHL team offer him a very lucrative and tax-free contract.

    I’ve often wondered how many other teams face the similar problem of too many contracts like the Oil.

  2. Racki says:

    I wouldn’t mind see the Oilers taking a chance on someone and worrying about the consequences afterwards (i.e. sign a player, then waive someone if need be). But I do respect Tambellini for wanting to play it safe and deal with the issue first. Teams like to exploit other teams’ weaknesses, so I can see that putting yourself in that situation isn’t going to do you any favors when dealing with other GMs.

    It’ll be a few years before Tambellini really is able to clean up this team’s contract situation. Pisani is off the books at the end of this year, Staios and Moreau the following year, then Penner the next year. After that, aside from Horcoff’s, most of the contracts shouldn’t be any sort of issue.

  3. Bostonoiler says:

    He has scored 23 and 26 goals goals the past 2 seasons. More than any Oiler. I think we take a chance on him.

  4. Racki says:

    OilerTyler had a good post on the Oilers Forum. Very short and sweet:

    “If Renney doesn’t want him there must be a good reason why, so i am fine with that”

    That pretty much sums up how I think about it. Basically if Tom Renney isn’t interested, that’s a bit of a deal breaker. Although I wonder if he’s actually come out and said it or if it is just Jim Matheson assuming this because Renney hasn’t said anything about picking up Zherdev.

  5. Bostonoiler says:

    Renney hasn’t said a word, soIwon’t believe that Renney doesn’t like him until I see it said by Tom.

  6. gr8one says:

    I gotta say I have mixed emotions, pretty much for the same reasons you guys already stated, on the one hand, he has so much offensive potential and upside it is kind of disappointing, and I too wouldn’t mind the Oilers taking a chance on someone, especially if it was only for a year, I mean, why not take a chance and if he lights it up, either try to re sign him long term, or trade him as rental to a team making a push at the deadline, or if he’s a bust, then let him walk…which might be advantageous considering Gagner/Cogs, etc needing new contracts next year.

    On the other hand, with his reputation and Renney not vouching for him definitely sounds the alarm, and so does the Rangers willing to just let him walk for nothing.

    It did really seem kind of low risk with a potential for a high reward, however, I am still holding out hope that perhaps the reason they aren’t going after Zherdev is because they are working on getting bigger(figuratively) and better, like a Kessel or a Gagne, although as time passes, that’s looking more unlikely too.

  7. Racki says:

    Hey Gr8one, good to see you here..

    It sure would be nice if the Oil were working on Kessel or Gagne. The pessimist in me (and perhaps the realist) says that they aren’t though and that they are done. Tambellini has mentioned it a couple of times not to expect any moves. So that’s a bit disheartening. I think there are obvious issues in the lineup this year, and Tambellini seems to be one of the only people that wants to see us try to win with the exact same formula again (with new coaches and a different goaltender, mind you – but is that enough?).

    But hey, rumors are still floating around. And I did read somewhere recently about Kessel being discussed with two west coast teams (no names mentioned though). I think Vancouver and Edmonton were the teams that people thought made the most sense. Wouldn’t that be just another kick in the pants if another good player went to a NW team and it wasn’t the Oilers?

  8. DropIt says:

    Has Renney actually came out and said anything? Or is this just some sort of media push?

    I have yet to hear anything from the likes of any coach, although the amount of time I spend listening in on the Oilers and their goings-on is admittingly quite minimal. But really, Zherdev was just released to UFAgency and the last thing Renney probably wanted to do is hype up all the Oiler fans all over again about a player they may not get.

    Zherdev, even though not as good as Gagne or Kessel, is still a big step in the right direction (assuming that there is no “off ice complications” with him). His situation likely is more beneficial in Edmonton, where he is likely to see a lot more ice time than he would on a top heavy NYR team.

    Until I hear Renney say something about Zherdev being a “distrubance” or “bad locker room presence” I really wouldn’t take him off of the Oilers’ radar quite yet. Tambellini, IMO is going to have to make some sort of move before the season. The west was busy this year in free agency and most teams upgraded. Edmonton, has done little however, and a goalie and 1 good coach may not tilt the scales as much as Edmonton fans are starting to be forced to hope.

  9. Racki says:

    Yah as far as I know Renney hasn’t come out and said that he isn’t interested in Zherdev. I suppose it is always a possibility.

    And you’re right about your assessment of the west. I watched in horror as other teams upgraded with players I had hoped the Oilers could attain ;) I am not on the same page with Tambellini who has said that this team (as is) is a playoff team. We thought it was a playoff team last year too, Steve!

    I do put a lot of blame on MacTavish for the Oilers’ woes last year, but I don’t think it was quite that much his fault.

    You have to admit though, this off-season has been pretty crazy. Quite a few names we wouldn’t normally dream of being available, normally.

  10. DropIt says:

    Oh ya, crazy off-season for UFAgency, and the Oilers in particular. I commend Tambellini for making jumps at guys who normally would never even be thought of in an Oiler uniform. And to start the off season I was really, quite impressed. But having said that, it sounds as though this whole Heatley situation shook his confidence and he doesn’t want to get back on that horse.

    The Oilers, I think, are possibly a playoff team. Yes. Especially under the reigns of a Pat Quinn. But since when is playoffs all a team strives for? He should be making moves to ice the best team he can, unless he is counting on top end production from every player on the roster this year.

    Mctavish is a touchy subject, personally, even though he was the Oilers’ coach, I though he was a good boss behind the bench. I point fingers at management before Mctavish. The guy coached in Edmonton what, 9 years? Without achieving anything (minus the run that mirrored Calgary’s, but we both know that gets you no respect). Mctavish is a good coach IMO, but his words god old and stale. Players weren’t buying in to it anymore and Edmonton finally had to let him go, albeit probably 3 years to late.

  11. DropIt says:

    I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with that last comment:P so let me get back on track

    If Zherdev has his problems, then I guess you have to trust Renney with his word. He is part of the organization and you really cannot shut his word down before he asst. Coaches his first game, that looks bad. I guess I am just saying that Edmonton, IMO, needs to do something to save this upcoming season. Which means they have to take a chance on a guy, so in their case, hopefully they can work out something with Boston, or Renney is going to have to swallow some pride and let Tambellini do what is best for the team.
    Which may turn out rough when you look at Renney’s history with management above him.

  12. gr8one says:

    DropIt,

    I gotta admit, you are very likable for a Flames fan, and you really are almost starting to sound like a closet Oilers fan…as you should be. :p

    but yeah, I can’t say as I disagree with anything you’re saying, although, Zherdev hitting UFA status does kind of change things up, as it might take more than the 3.9m than the arbiter awarded and a longer term than just a year, but who knows.

    in a strange way, I actually liked the idea of the Rangers signing him, and the Oilers having to make the trade for him, especially because in hindsight we likely could have acquired him for a low level prospect and/or a late round pick, considering the Rangers let him walk for nothing.

    Also, Oilers don’t currently have the cap space to fit 3.9 million either, so that’s an issue too without having to give up any players to get him, at least not without making some other moves. Honestly, the salary cap ere kinda blows, especially now that we have an owner that farts money.

    We also can’t forget the KHL angle either, where regardless of whether or not the Rangers signed him, there could be unknown information that he is intending to pull a Radulov no matter what.

    there really are just so many facets to the whole Zherdev thing, that could be why the Oilers don’t seem to keen on him, I just hope we do something.

  13. Hockey Noob says:

    Hey DropIt,

    Yeah, I would certainly prefer to see something happen in terms of roster additions prior to this upcoming season starting. I would’ve liked Zherdev better if we had been able to make a trade with Slats which would have the benefit of freeing up some cap/contract space.

    Right now, we’ve got a curious mix of young players with lots of potential as well as some older vets on the downward slope of their respective careers with Hemsky sandwiched in the middle. In terms of our forwards, our veteran depth is pretty much non-existent. With Kotalik gone, it would be nice to at least pick up one more proven 20 goal scorer.

    Right now, the only card that we’re holding is basically the potential of our new coaching tandem. Though Bulin’s a possible upgrade over Roli, any potential benefit will be canceled out by the fact that he won’t play as many games.

    There’s still some time left though August is typically extremely quiet in terms of trades, but I am guessing that we’re standing pat. On the positive side, this will help to shed light on MacT’s coaching abilities in terms of providing a reasonable comparison.

  14. Racki says:

    Excellent posts guys.

    I must admit, I would have loved to have seen Zherdev on this team, even with Renney’s possible dislike of the guy. But that’s just because there is a side of me that desires change. And quite frankly, it’s hard not to want that after the last 3 years we’ve been through.

    It is hard not to wonder what is going through Tambellini’s head when his comments at the end of the season seemed to almost feel like “well, I’m grudgingly firing MacTavish even though I know you players own a lot of the responsibility”. I’m sure I’m not the only one that got that vibe. It was like he was doing it to relieve MacTavish of the vast amount of pressure he was under and to remove that obvious distraction. So now, I have a lot of respect for Quinn and Renney, and I think they are going to be much better coaches for this team and the players will buy into what they’re selling, but I wonder why Tambellini seemed to have a bit of a change of heart. Does he suddenly think these same players that didn’t get it done are going to pull it off next year? Or are Quinn and Renney just THAT much better at getting the most out of their players (personally I think there is some truth to that)? Really, we’re minus Brodziak and Kotalik, and only plus Khabibulin (I might be forgetting someone here). Not really any drastic changes, but that sounds to me like he’s really thinking that the same players that crapped the bed last year are going to get it together this year.

    Tambellini seems content to resort to the same formula (with a couple of changes) that has failed before, but expecting different results… doesn’t seem too wise. But it’s why they play the games.. yo ujust never know what can happen.

  15. DropIt says:

    Personally, I think you are going to see a significant change in this club throughout the season. Quinn is a good coach, and an upgrade from McT (even though I think McT was piled on from bad KLowe decisions). What I would worry about if I was an Oiler fan would not be making the playoffs, as I think they have as good of a shot as Nashville, Colombus, LA. To hit the 7-8 spot. What I would be concerned of, is when it hits “do-or-die” time come march-april, when there is a push for playoffs and Edmonton is in the thick of the race as they always are….

    Do you really have confidence in the group of players you see now in that lineup to pull through when it matters?

  16. Racki says:

    Well you know what, that’s one thing I kind of have faith in, oddly. Gagner has had some big struggles in the early goings of both seasons, but wow, did he ever poor it on in the end of last season. In fact, in the last 20 games, he was a PPG player with a few multi-point nights and even a hat trick (and no, no empty netter). And this, at just 19 years old. He was under a lot of pressure throughout the season, since he wasn’t putting up good numbers, and when the time came, he answered the call. Unfortunately we didn’t make the playoffs, as you know… but I think that momentum at the end of the season would have carried on into the playoffs. Now, of course that’s just one player… but I think there are a few other players that are great at answering the bell when the time is needed. Unfortunately it’s the beginning / middle of the season when games seem to mean less that our team doesn’t seem to get motivated.

    Also on MacT, I do agree. MacTavish had some crazy ideas last year. Things we referred to as square pegs in round holes – Pisani at center, Reddox on the top line, and other oddball ideas. But at the same time, while these were odd MacTavish ideas, sometimes I wonder if it had a lot to do with MacTavish saying to Lowe/Tambellini – “What the eff do you guys expect me to do with this lineup??”. He actually did beg for a pker/checker/faceoff guy at one point last year only to receive a “not going to happen” from Prendergast or Tambellini. Wow. Talk about not being on the same page.

    Honestly, I don’t see any reason to believe management and the coaching staff didn’t get along famously, however there seemed to be a pretty big difference of opinion on things there. Sometimes it’s hard to say whether it’s management that is failing, or coaching, or a bit of both. I think it’s a bit of both.

  17. DropIt says:

    Definately, the last few years there semmed to be some unspoken tension between management and coaching, I remember the year before at the deadline Mctavish asking for a big player, and Edmonton was just starting to come on. Yet nothing delivered. But a change was needed, and as we have all seen numerous times, the coach is almost always the first one to go.

    I wonder this year, if the “kid line” will perform a little better when the heat of the media is off of their shoulders. I mean, you don’t need to look any further than the name of the line than to understand why they, in all respect, were flattened under the pressure. Until, of course the media laid off when the Oilers started to fade, and then they started to play again.

    I think with the lineup you see, the Oilers have what could be argued a bottom feeder playoff team, but if they do make it, I think the fans will be leaning on an empty prayer of what they saw when the Oilers last made the playoffs; A miracle run that they really have no business making.

  18. Racki says:

    Well, one thing that bothers me about management is that they’re looking for that one slam-dunk, home-run player to complete the team. Really, that would be nice to finally have that elite player for Hemsky, however I think if we just acquire another shooter even of a Kessel-type caliber, and a player like Malhotra or Betts… well, that will do this team wonders. I think we could get by with a Penner O’Sullivan Hemsky top line, but for line 2, we need a bigger body to play with Gagner and Cogliano. There are some options out there (Horton would seem like a pretty good fit).

    As for Horcoff, I love the guy, but I think he would be a great player to put on a 2-way line… a hybrid, in-between line. Sorry if any of you are getting tired of hearing it. :P

  19. Hockey Noob says:

    Drop It,

    One area that I disagree with you is with the ’06 playoff run that we had. I think that many people underestimate the caliber of team that we had that year due to our finish with the race for 8th place. I think that Kevin Lowe, yeah the same guy that’s left many Oilers fans perplexed since, actually iced a very good team of skaters that year. Many of have argued that crew would’ve probably finished in a more secure playoff spot that year had we not had the worst (sorry from memory) goal tending in the league in terms of stats during the regular season.

    Though that roster may have lacked an elite goal scorer, we had a very good mix of veteran (legit NHL’ers) as well as the human rake (Pronger) and Roli who turned it up during the playoffs.

    Racki, all too often, I’ve agreed with you on the Oilers forum and I am not diverging from that here, lol. I think many Oilers fans are frustrated not because of our lackluster roster per se, but because they’re aware that we’re just a few key roster changes from potentially being a pretty decent team.

  20. Racki says:

    Hey Noob,

    My only problem with that roster in 05/06 was that the obvious need for a goaltender was left unfixed until what, the trade deadline? It almost cost us the playoffs too. It seems that we’re always a few little tweaks away from being a solid team. This year is no exception. A lot of people are saying we’re not even close, but I don’t really feel that way. I still stand by the statement that really a faceoff/pker would do wonders for this team, as would another shooter for the top six. But aside from that, there are just some nice to haves (like it would be nice to have a stay-at-home d-man).

    However, as simple as those changes sound to an armchair GM, they probably in reality won’t happen. The shooter is a difficult one, for sure. However the faceoff/pker.. there’s at least 3 very good ones sitting out there available still. We’re not talking about big money to sign one either, so I think the cash can be freed up for one of these guys. But hey, if they go with O’Sullivan, Gagner, Horcoff and Brule (or Pouliot) as our centremen, that might work out well too. It’ll be interesting to see what the lineup looks like at the start of the season.

  21. DropIt says:

    Ya, I get what your saying Noob, and I’m not intentionally trying to take anything away from the Oilers, they were a good team that year and I’m in no way saying they fluked that entire season away. That would be ridiculous.

    What I was saying was when you look at the other teams that were in the playoffs the same year as the Oilers’ run, there were easily better teams talent wise in front of the Oilers. Its undeniable, but they got there with solid management, coaching and an all around excellent effort from every player. But as you said, their goaltending was atrocious that year up until the playoffs… in all respect they probably shouldn’t have made that run, but they did and it was well deserved and exciting to watch. Exactly like Calgary’s

  22. Hockey Noob says:

    Hey Racki,

    Yeah, the goal tending issue certainly was left until the last minute.

    Some of the holes in our current roster have been around for the past two or three seasons without getting addressed. I mean, yeah we lost our 2nd best faceoff man, but it’s not like this area wasn’t already a problem even with Brodziak. I believe we were 25th in the league in terms of faceoff % last season.

    Given that many of our team’s problems last season such as PK, PP, and faceoff %–won’t likely be to amenable to a dramatic improvement based on a coaching change alone, one might wonder why we don’t at least acquire at least a PK/Faceoff man?

    I think that Jonathan Willis on Copper & Blue, made a fairly compelling argument recently that not signing a UFA has little to do with the too many bodies/contracts argument and more to do with salary concerns (not salary cap).

  23. Racki says:

    Hey Noob, I agree with Willis. The too many bodies/contracts issue isn’t even an issue right now. I did a count earlier in the off-season (not that long ago), and we still had space. But no, we have no space on the cap though. We have maybe a million, once Smid is re-signed. If anyone, we could probably get Betts, for cheap. But Betts is a fairly uni-dimensional player. I’ve been thinking about things lately, and we have a few guys in the 40s. Really, I’d like to see an improvement there, but if that doesn’t happen, the best thing they can do is forget about Cogliano on the dot (unless he did some sort of ironman faceoff training in the off-season that we don’t know about).

    I also have been preaching the need to cut Nilsson loose, which sounds like he is in agreement with, as is Lowetide. Really Nilsson’s skills are duplicated by a few other players, and at 2M, he’s fodder for a waiver. That’s enough to sign a checker/faceoff/pker right there. Hellooooo Malhotra. God forbid we’d actually waive anyone though, right?

  24. Hockey Noob says:

    Hey Racki,

    Yeah, I think that I wasn’t entirely clear on my last comment. I realize that we’re tight against the cap right now. However, if we were to go after a Malhotra or similar–assuming that even Malhotra could be signed at around $2 million cap hit, then the salary cap issues that this would create could be managed. I agree about your thoughts regarding Nilsson as the potential solution to the cap issues created by signing a checker/faceoff/pker.

    Waiving Nilsson to send him to the AHL or hope that somebody picks him up would free up $2million in cap space right there. I guess if he made it down to the AHL, then the only issue would be salary–not salary cap as I meant earlier.

    Yeah, it doesn’t sound like waiving anyone is on Tambi’s radar right now, but we’ll have to see, lol.

  25. Racki says:

    No need to clarify, I figured you were likely on board with the idea of freeing up salary by stuffing some down in the minors. ;)

    And one thing to note, if we would have landed Heatley, we would have had to free up cash somehow to finish this roster (as we’d need to have two more guys in the line up, but would only have about $1M in salary left). So somewhere, Tambellini must’ve had a plan to free up salary in some way, you’d think. Now of course, having a star like Heatley obviously makes us just THAT much better and that much more likely to be a solid team, but still.. I just think that it looked like “oh shit, we didn’t get Heatley… well why bother then, let’s just sulk and cry about it for a while in the corner”.

    Effin’ fix the other problems. They’ll probably do this team a greater benefit anyways.

  26. OilerzCounty83 says:

    These russian boys are really pushing buttons in the NHL lol, Zherdev is a good a player
    he has the potential to score, if Edmonton would have signed him he would of been 2nd in points on our Oilers roster with 58 points ? But it looks like we let Zherdev walk free. Id give him 4 mill for 2 years that all Zherdev is worth . Thats giving him 2 mil per year .. I also hear Toronto shut the doors to Zherdev where is he likely to land the KHL … back home in Russia enless a team like Phoenix or Tampa try and lure him which i dont really see him agreeing too .

    With the Oilers where would Zherdev stand, definnialy with Hemsky and Horcoff , some PP time on the 1st or 2nd core of PP`s, he would be intresting mix with Patrick O Sulivan also
    to bad that will just be a fantasy as of now we are not taking Zherdev with him and Renney past i dont think so hearing he is lazy and a on and off player that remindes me that MaCtasvish is still in the house blahhh

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