Although we pretty much know what’s going to happen with Nik Zherdev by noon today, we wait.
Glen Sather and the Rangers will walk away from his $3.9 salary-arbitration award and make him an unrestricted free agent. And unless there is somebody in the NHL a lot nuttier than we imagine, or Zherdev greatly reduces his pricetag as a free agent, he will be out of the NHL for 2009-10.
Zherdev will have to play in Russia, in the KHL, this coming season.
And here’s what I think about that. He doesn’t compete, and I don’t know if that changes, if any coach will ever get through to him and make him competitive. So the Rangers are saying goodbye to him, and probably would have at any price. If he had signed his qualifying offer, they probably would have then traded him.
Here’s also what I think. At some point, Zherdev will get back into the NHL, at some point he will land in the right situation, and with those great hands and great skills, he will score a large number of goals—40?—and all of you (us) will be saying, “How could the Rangers let him go?”
When the real question, if we’re honest with ourselves today, is “How could the Rangers keep him?”
PS, starting today I am on the prowl for imposters, who will be banned. Be warned.