Friday saw Nikolai Zherdev’s arbitration hearing go without a decision. With the final ruling postponed to Monday, the Rangers will be using this weekend to determine the bottom line they are willing to spend on the enigmatic and complicated winger.
Reports suggest that Zherdev is seeking a contract in the realm of $4.5M annually after tying the departed Scott Gomez for the team lead in scoring last season (58 points). However, Zherdev looked lost at times and didn’t seem to click in Tortorella’s offensively aggressive system.
On the flip side, he is only 24 years old and has the talent to be an all-world scorer when focused and motivated. Putting him on the practice rink with newcomer Marian Gaborik could provide him with the competitive push that will elevate his game to a 40 or 50 goal scorer.
There is no denying Zherdev’s raw ability, but there are many who worry about his mental composition. The Rangers gave up Fedor Tyutin to acquire Zherdev, so that principle alone should be enough to convince Glen Sather to go all in for one more season of Z.
Of course, it’s totally up to Sather and the Ranger management, but BLS would love to see no. 13 back on Broadway for at least one more season.