Today is the day for Nik Zherdev as he and his agent prepare to take on Rangers management in a battle of arbitration over about $1 million.
The Rangers reportedly have offered up to $3.25 million while the Zherdev camp is seeking around $4.5 million.
It appears at face value that the two sides will part, but there is more to think about than merely a stubborn kid who is overvaluing himself.
The Rangers gave up a strong player in defenseman Fedor Tyutin to acquire Zherdev, yes they also gave up Christian Backman and acquired Dan Fritsche, but the main component of the trade was Zherdev for Tyutin.
To simply lose Zherdev for nothing would make no sense as it shows that the Rangers got nothing for a top-four defenseman in Tyutin.
There is nothing limiting a sign-and-trade, of course, but what NHL team is going to take that chance at around $4 million? Not many unless you are taking a bad salary back in return.
Yet, what most are not talking about is how the Rangers roster will be affected by losing Zherdev. Are the Rangers really best served without him as opposed to with him?
While recent memory is always the easiest to evaluate, the team was relying on Zherdev as their primary offensive player for the first 50+ games of the season.
He was energetic, exciting, and a terrific talent. Fans must admit, for the better half of the season, they wanted Zherdev on the ice.
But it came crashing down as quickly as it seemed to build up.
He fell apart under new coach John Tortorella, was subject to benchings and line demotions, and did little in the playoffs.
Yet he still amassed 23 goals and 35 assists for 58 points along with a solid +6.
Statistically he is a strong player, particularly at 24 years old.
Not discounting his attitude and prima donna-esque persona, but he is still a solid winger with terrific upside. Also consider that the offense will now focus on Marian Gaborik and Zherdev would be playing in a much higher-paced system under Tortorella, a role he could flourish in.
So while it seems inevitable that Zherdev will walk, it may not be the wisest move for an organization thin on the wings to let a potent scorer (albeit with a terrible attitude) to just strut down Fifth Avenue and onto a rival club.