New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather decided that the enigmatic Nikolai Zherdev was not worth another season at a somewhat steep $3.9M, and has exercised his right to walk away from the arbitrator’s award, meaning that Z will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.
Losing Zherdev now raises the Ranger total to four right wingers that the team has said goodbye to this offseason, including Fred Sjostrom, Nik Antropov, and Colton Orr. Perhaps Sather believes that newcomers Marian Gaborik, Ales Kotalik, and Enver Lisin will prosper more under Tortorella, but at some point there has to be an ounce of continuity in the Ranger locker room.
Zherdev’s departure will make it nine Rangers missing from last season’s postseason roster, and that isn’t considering Aaron Voros or Blair Betts. While I understand that it takes the correct personnel to play to a coach’s strengths, it seems as if the Rangers are acting like offseason cowboys with no regard for waiting to see if their investments will flourish.
With $6M remaining in cap room, it will now be interesting to see how long the Rangers lock up Brandon Dubinsky, and who else they will bring in with their remaining dollars. But perhaps it will be more interesting to watch where Z goes, and if he inevitably turns into the next Russian right winger that the Rangers gave up on that matures into a 40-goal scorer (see: Alex Kovalev). Don’t forget Kovalev had flashes of dominance and peddled around 20-25 goals per season, before busting out with 44 tally-marks in Pittsburgh.