In what may come to many as a surprise, the Rangers are currently in talks with Nik Zherdev regarding a return to the NHL. Genadi Boguslavski of the Sovetsky Sport broke this via Twitter, and states that the Rangers have begun talks with the enigmatic winger to return to the NHL. Let’s chalk this one up as a rumor for now.
Zherdev, who led the Rangers in scoring with a line of 23-35-58 in the 2008-2009 season, fell out of favor with fans after his disappearing act in the last month of the season and the playoffs against Washington. The Rangers, who are currently extremely thin on RW, offered Zherdev $3.25 million in the offseason, with Zherdev wanting closer to $4.5 million. An arbitrator awarded Zherdev the medium, at $3.9 million, to which the Rangers walked away, making him an unrestricted free agent. With no market for him, Zherdev reportedly attempted to return to the Rangers for the original $3.25 million, but the Rangers turned him away. Zherdev then bolted for the KHL.
Zherdev would provide some nice complimentary scoring for Marian Gaborik, and would give the Rangers a very nice 1-2 punch on the RW. It would also take some of the pressure off of Gaborik, who seemed to be the only consistent scorer on the Rangers this past season. At the right length and price, the Rangers, and their fans, should welcome back Zherdev. It is highly unlikely, considering how the negotiations went in 2009, that Zherdev gets a multi-year deal. Market value puts him right around the $3 million -$3.5 million range, but with little negotiating power on his side, it is highly possible that Zherdev signs for under that amount.
Update 2:55pm: Steve Zipay is tweeting that the Rangers have denied this rumor.