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July 25, 2008

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so when does Sather try to extend his contract? The kid has the talent .

Great video piece. Most of the goals he scored happened when the score was tied or behind by one goal. CLUTCH! It looks like Gomer's speed will work well with Z. Nasland is also a good passer and should work well on the other wing. I even think Dawes could be a strong LW on that line.

Dubi, I hope you're right about a breakout season. We could use the extra scoring. Zherdov's defensive game (backchecking) is something that should be similar to the Blue Jackets system. I think his line will be given a little more offensive freedom, mainly because of the defensive games played by both Nasland and Gomez. Z may be free! (within reason, of course)

This kid also looks like a legitimate 1st option for the shootout - we haven't one of those since Sykora. Niko, Dawes and Gomer, maybe?

Zherdev is 42% in 19 career shootouts (8 goals), not bad. Naslund is 5-19 (26%), which is OK but not great. I would put them in the mix with Dawes and Gomez (both 50% career on 10 and 8 shots.) Prucha started great but is only 3-15 in his career.

Funny how the best at the shootout, guys with 50%-plus success over time, are not always great players, like Eric Christiansen, Jussi Jokinen, Victor and Slava Kozlov and Matt Cullen. While great players such as Corsby (32%), Ovechkin (29%), Jagr and Malkin (17%) are below-average.

Anyway, good article on Zherdev. I think his maturation, plus the more understanding coaching and system that fits his style better should enable him to bust out.

I do wonder whether his skill at carrying the puck will clash with Gomez, whose strength is to carry the puck from his own goal line into the offensive zone, thus breaking the other team's defensive system. If Zherdev needs to do the same thing, will their styles mesh?

I wonder if a player's total even strength points holds any meaning. Even strength success should indicate battle level and skill more so than the overall points level, power play goals, or plus minus. In order to accumulate points at even strength, a player must add something to his flight (a term I think describes all five players on the ice).

I looked at last year's top 90 even strength point getters, as they should roughly represent an approximation of top line forwards in the league.

The Rangers have four on their roster. They are Dubinsky, Gomez, Naslund, and Zherdev. I would look at this, and see line 1 and line 2.

Gomez and Dubinsky, based on even strength production, are the Ranger's top two centers.

We have to doubt this result a bit, because of the Jagr effect on Dubinsky's play. However, the Jagr effect may not have been so large that given a top 90 linemate (which Jagr was) then Dubinsky should repeate at least and likely improve with over an entire season at the top.

Gomez and Zherdev clearly have the legs going for them, but we shouldn't discount the possiblity of putting the very skilled Zherdev with someone used to a very skilled linemate, and pair Dubinsky and Zherdev on a line.

That leaves Gomez with Naslund as his finisher. This works on several levels. Gomez is one of the best in the league at moving past the defense. Naslund is one of the better in the league at following up. Naslund would never pull a Sean Avery and take his team offsides.

Drury, Dawes, and Callahan were a tremendous line last year, and without Jagr taking up a huge amount of ice time, the time will be much better distributed between the top three lines.

The question that remains is who skates with Gomez and Naslund, and who with Dubinsky and Zherdev.

The options don't look good on the surface...Sjostrom, Prucha, Rissmiller, Voros. While this configuration does look bleak, remember that the total flight must come into the picture. If a flight looks like Dubinsky, Zherdev, Redden, and Girardi, I wouldn't feel too uncomfertable skatting a Prucha out there, or even a Voros or Rissmiller. It almost wouldn't matter who the fifth skater was, as long as they were moderately compitent at following the coach's directions.

That would put the second foursome as Gomez, Naslund, Staal, and Rozsival. Again, I don't see it as a problem that the line is missing a really strong extra winger.

To facilitate the matching, Zherdev is the right wing, so Prucha is the left wing. Naslund is the left wing, so Sjostrom is the right wing.

Naslund, Gomez, Sjostrom (Arctic Circle Express)
Prucha, Dubinsky, Zherdev (Jagr's boyfriends and their new pimp)
Dawes, Drury, Ryan Callahan (Obviously called the DDR line)

Z may have big offensive skills but he may just be the latest version of Pavel Brendl or Alex Bourret. His all-world offense got him barely into the NHL on a team bereft of talent. Now in New York he will be forced to work and he will be in the spotlight. He could either continue to be lazy and lackadaisical or could step up. While hoping for the latter, I wouldn't be the least bit shocked to see the former. And the Rangers dealt away the only defenseman who has a predilection to hit for him ... its another in the series of big gambles made by Sather this season and, quite frankly, it scares me that we go from Stanley Cup-capable team to borderline playoff squad in one offseason ...

I agree with Dubi. Niko Z could be the real thing. Hopefully, Ranger fans will give him time to get comfortable. And I have to go along with NumberCruncher as to preferred line combinations. Damn! I can't wait!

Big Z... I like that. I'm in Boston, so around here Big Z is Franken-Chara, but screw him...

It looks like Z's got a lot of Kovalev in him... I hope their isn't any Kaminsky in there too....

Some of the goals in that video package were incredible and he got a little excited after he scored (more so than Jagr at least), so it looks like he enjoys the game. If he got excited after scoring goals in Conumbus (Isn't their barn named after National Rent-a-car???) what do you think will happen when he scores a game winner against the Devils at the Garden??? I think he'll be fine.

It's Nationwide Arena in Conumbus. Sorry about that, but still. My point still stands...

Niky is going to score 40!

Scotty Hockey

In many peoples eyes we owuld become a
boarderline playoff team when ever Jagr left. So that argument doesn't hold water. And to compare Z to Brendl or Bourret, well where does that come from. This guys been in the NHL for a number of years AND HAS PRODUCED. On top of that, as you point out, on a "team bereft of talent". Think you are thinking too much. Sather and the organization has a strategy and they are staying true to it. Lets see how this move works out before we bury the staff.

The team from last season was considered a cup contender only on paper. In reality, the Rangers showed that they were not even close. They barely got into the playoffs. There is no way to predict what we will see come October. There is no reason to believe that they will be worse than last year. Well, at least if the team tanks big time, Tavaris is waiting.

Where did you get that illustration?

It's great.

I liked and wanted Z for 2 years, I just hope he stays here and does not go to Russia. However if he loves it here, I dont see him leaving at all. Lets hope not.

Nice work Dubi.

Dubi

Great article , thanks!!

Jess

Excellent article also, I think you are center mass on the chemistry thing!

Everyone

Is it just me or does anyone else seem to think that pock has about a 5% chance at making the rangers roster as a #7 d man? I would rather see denisov on the big club myself>

I have a real wait and see attitude toward this team right now. That's not to say I think anybody may not work out, but there are a lot of question marks. our youngsters are good--very good--but where will they max out? Naslund seems less the bull than Jagr is, so what will happen, and is it just change of scenery that he needs? And big Z--he's got the skill, but is he a consistent threat or consistently inconsistent?

I love the highlights you're posting, and I'll admit I'm optimistic. But cautious, too. Looking forward to your discussion of the D....

G

Where does Cherepanov figure in all of this? Are the Rangers anticipating a Russian connection next season? And what of their Russian draft pick, Evegny Grachev? Are the Rangers starting their own KHL franchise in New York, just in case Bettman doesn't let the Rangers continue in the NHL?

Hey, I've watched the highlight reels and all and I can't wait to see the kid suit up. Good point, Dubi, about the Z-man feeling more comfortable here within the Russian community. Hope that holds true. Also, I wonder if these new guys plan to live in the city (better for team cohesion we were told last season)?

Something that I think we all may be overlooking when it comes to Zherdev is that he was forcefed to the NHL playing for then 2 year old Bluejackets.

They never took the time to develop him, they never took the time to let him adjust to not only the North American game but North American life and culture.

Zherdev came over from Russia was thrown right into the fire on their first line with Nash in 2002-03, the lockout came in 2004 and then Zherdev was back with the BJs in 2005.

Can anyone see where anyone took the time to help the kid develop? I sure do not and that is why I would treat Zherdev as if he was joining the NHL for the first time.

World class talent? Oh heck yea the kid has it in spades.

Adult Maturity? He is just 23 and let me ask how many had their act together at that age? How many of you would have handled moving someplace where you did not speak the language, where you have to deal with both culture shock and being lonely with hardly any other Russians around.

Sorry but just because you sign/trade for another Russian like the BJs did automatically makes life better.

In NYC there are Russians everywhere so Zherdev can find places to eat, people to speak with and a sense of community. The Rangers also have a VP who speaks Russian and unlike Columbus, Zherdev will be able to blend into the background when not playing hockey.

Any other established franchise (even the Rangers) would have given Zherdev time to adjust to the North American game with some time in the AHL something Zherdev never had (just 2 AHL games).

Think back to how the Rangers badly mismanaged Manny Malhotra and see what that did to his career and you have an idea as to what has happened with Zherdev.

People have questioned everything about this 23 year old but let also factor in playing for Ken Hitchcock who can be a very tough coach to play for.

Toss in the expectations of a franchise that was still in it's infancy and asking a then 19 year old to put them on the map.

Yes Zherdev is going to have also work on his own self to insure that the boo birds do not trash him.

If it was me despite his talent I would not make the same mistake that the BJs did by making Zherdev a first liner right from the get go.

I would treat Zherdev just as would any other young player, forget his past and develop/adapt Zherdev to the Ranger system by making him earn his first line status with his play.

My own concern is that the expectations coupled with the baggage from Columbus could put Zherdev into a situation(s) where he has to score 50 goals in 50 games or people will turn on him.

Zherdev's margin of error I fear is next to none and that will be totally wrong and unfair.

If the Rangers repeat the same mistakes that the BJs made with Zherdev then as Dubi wrote the stay just might be really be just one season.

Give the kid some time to adjust, some time to adapt, and some time to make some mistakes.

Ncsteve

MY GUT FEELING HERE

The more I ask around the more I am left feeling that the Rangers will not see Cherepanov until after he turns 25.

I base this on how the current CBA is worded vs what the KHL can offer Cherepanov now.

The CBA states that a player 18-21 must be given a 2 way contract that is 3 years in length. A player drafted in his draft year can only earn 875,000.

That 875,000 is only if he plays in the NHL, play in the AHL and the number drops to next to nothing.

As you can know the KHL is not bound by such limits so they can offer Cherepanov the sky which is what I expect them to do.

Do not expect the Rangers to cry too much about this because as of right now the Rangers own the rights to Cherepanov forever baring any change to either the PTA or CBA.

I expect that Cherepanov (and the Rangers) to wait until Cherepanov is 25 when he is no longer subject to the entry level restrictions.

At 25 Cherepanov can sign a one way contract of any length and not be bound by the entry level salary cap limits.

Again that is my own gut feeling based upon what I have seen and heard from those in Europe.

Grachev wants to play in the NHL not in the KHL. The Russians do not consider him as talented as Cherepanov so while they want him to come home it is not as if they have the same expectations of him as they do Cherepanov.

I normally do not ask folks to check out my Prospect Park but Charles Reid who covers the Prince Edward Island Rocket and the QMJHL in general stopped by for an interview with some information on Chris Doyle (if you have not seen the Doyle/McMillian fight that alone makes it work the trip as we have the video), and a Top 10 list of both NHL draft busts and bargains that will give folks something to argue about when they see who was listed as the number draft bargain.

http://theprospectpark.blogspot.com/

Jess

I hope you are wrong about Cherepanov (I can't wait that long!), but maybe by treating Zherdev properly and by bringing him along like you suggest--and re-signing him, then perhaps Cherepanov will think twice and consider the pay cut to come play in New York. Of course, the back side of that proposition is that if the Blueshirts mishandle Zherdev, well, I really hate to think about that scenario.

And by the way, anyone who might be on the fence about joining the BB+, just look at what transpired here. I asked a question on BB+ at midnight on a Friday in July (I have no social life) and I am presented a lucid, well reasoned response at 3:45 AM. (I'm only hoping, Jess, that you're in another time zone, or you probably are a somnambulist or something.) Anyway, thanks for the info. Much appreciated.

Dumb question time. Who is the Ranger exec that speaks Russian?

jESS

I cant believe in the top 10 steals theres no Bure or Datsyuk

Great stuff! Thanks, Dubi.

The kid obviously has a ton of talent and from what I see in the video(s) he appears to not be a hot dog. (I may be the only fan left who prefers my hockey players not jump all over the ice with "signature" celebrations when they score goals.)

I agree that the Brendl and Bourret analogy does not hold. Brendl was slow and lazy and Bourret was fat and could not take direction well, apparently. Seems more like the Alex K comparison fits better.

Of course, Alex drove me crazy with his little troll dolls and those georgous rushes where he inevitably lost the puck at the offensive blue line.

Too bad we had to let Toots go to get Niko. I'll bet he could benefit from having another young Russian or Ukranian on the team. Maybe AA will join the team at some point (although I can't see how he'll make it out of training camp). This based on nothing much, but watching videos of Niko, I got the feeling he's a shy kid (which sometimes manifests as "aloof and enigmatic"). I'm not an advocate of signing Shanny, but I have the gut feeling it will behoove us to have someone who can take this kid a little bit under his wing in the big city.

Hope Jess is right and Renney sees him as a still developing kid and not a plug-in star.

There are, of course, a multitude of questions when it comes to analyzing next year's team. To me, last year's team was never "a hitting defenseman and a power forward" away from the Cup. They never really came together and were firing on all cylinders. they relied on one hot guy at a time to carry them, whether it was Hank or Gomez or Jagr. This year it appears that the front office has a very specific plan and a group of players that they are adding geared towards playing a very specific style and system. The stopgap Jagr era lasted 3 years, was much better than anyone hoped for, and as a result they were able to add some terrific players who are vets in their prime to help further develop and complement the farm system. The league's best goalie (who else would anyone want?), several young developing defensemen, and loads of speed and snipe up front. Personally I think this team's only question mark is can they play the system that they were assembled to play? If they can do that, I don't worry about anything - they'll go far.

torts is metting up with icelanders

Ant

The only thing that surprises me about that is why it took so long. I'll bet they sign him soon, too. The only ? is--how long will it take Torts to "crash and burn" on the Island? One season? Two seasons? Half a season? Especially with Wang's "management by committee" plan. :rollseyes: Yeah, that'll work for Torts.

Expressen reports RFA winger Fredrik Sjostrom has re-signed a one-year contract with the NY Rangers worth $840K.

SPECTOR'S NOTE: My thanks to everyone who sent in the Murray link and to "Swedish Viking" for the Sjostrom link and translation.

Unless Shanahan speaks Russian it's hard to see what use he can be mentoring NZ.

Speaking of, who would we like to see on the 1st PP unit, NZ or BS? If they're both on the team next season Shanny, imo, will get the spot.

That would be totally wrong. No?

whos BS?

OOOO lol never mind

NCSteve, I can't believe you called Jess "lucid"

;)


The more I look at line combinations here, the more convinced I become that we need Brendan Shanahan back. Honestly, I can't get too excited about Prucha or Voros et al on the top two lines so its clear we are short 2 wingers unless Anisimov and Moore show they are ready for the NHL. Zherdev seems to be somewhat like Kovy--high risk, high reward andwe all know how post 94 Kovy sucked it up. I guess we can't afford it but Sundin and Shanny would make the picture a lot rosier to my mind. And why do we need all these 4th line guys taking up cap space. Do we really need Voros, Rissmiller and Orr on the same team?

The more I look at line combinations here, the more convinced I become that we need Brendan Shanahan back. Honestly, I can't get too excited about Prucha or Voros et al on the top two lines so its clear we are short 2 wingers unless Anisimov and Moore show they are ready for the NHL. Zherdev seems to be somewhat like Kovy--high risk, high reward andwe all know how post 94 Kovy sucked it up. I guess we can't afford it but Sundin and Shanny would make the picture a lot rosier to my mind. And why do we need all these 4th line guys taking up cap space. Do we really need Voros, Rissmiller and Orr on the same team?

Matty

Did I say "lucid"? I meant "unhinged." No, seriously, Jess is writing commentary at 4 in the morning! There's got to be a story behind that.

NCSteve

Jess lives on the west coast. It's not as late as it seems.

Im a little curious here as to why several people are saying that some of the nhl level players we have on the roster (even though they may be 3rd or 4th line players in the nhl, they are still nhl players) make them nervous or not very optimistic about the upcoming season and want ahl or not proven nhl players on the roster instead and that would make them feel more optimistic or confident in the rangers chances for a better season this year. I am not trying to pick a fight or anything, but that really does not make any sense to me. Proven players make you feel less optimistic than non-proven players??? Just trying to understand the logic folks!

NC Steve

Thanks for the some what kind words. Yes as Lisa said I live on the WC but if you look at it from your POV.

It just means that you can get hockey coverage as close to 24 hours a day as possible. Dubi I believe puts in about 12-14 hour days (more during the hockey season) and I am a night owl anyway so during the off-season I am typically up until 5:30 EDT.

Gravey

I think Renney will treat Zherdev as a work in progress not as you put it "plug-in" (mind if I borrow that one LOL) star.

I look at the Rangers as having enough firepower to start the season that they can afford to buy Zherdev the time he has never gotten to develop.

Bones

No the Rangers do not need all 3 of those players and I for one doubt that all will be there come opening night.

I believe of Voros, Rissmiller or Orr that Rissmiller would be the odd man out given his 1 mil 1 year deal.

Matty

Next time you need bail money to get yourself out of jail ask Dubi.

Ant

LOL

Wow - great video comp. I love the goal at the 3 minute mark. Very impressive. I hope the kid flourishes here. Hate this Russian competition talk. Hockey's Cold War revisited... Just a few weeks away before camp..

This is a first Jagrs interview where hi is openly shows his bitterness of leaving NY Rangers. That will be great if Laurie will translate this: http://news.sport-express.ru/online/ntext/24/nl247276.html

I think that one of Naslund or Zherdev ends up on Dubinsky's wing. I also think Korpikoski forces his way into the lineup, and that Prucha is not long for this team, especially the $1.6 million cap space his departure would open up.

After looking at the catch phrases of Matty and Lisa I think when I go home as I wait for the grim reaper cause this cold is killing me I think I am gona watch the Dark Night again.

Great article about Zherdev. Hope he can adjust to New York as swift as possible.


I need to watch Dark Knight at IMAX. It's a must!

First and formost...I am the original Z. Always was always will be. Glad to see (although it took the whole post, for someone to mention Korpo's name). Couple of years ago it was the Czech's that ruled int'l hockey... Next came the Swedes and now (if they ever get a goalie) the Russians are poised to dominate. In 94 I always said that the team with the best Russians would win the cup. I think now or very soon that will hold true again. One other thing not related to hockey... Why is Aaron Heilman still pitching for the Mets???

Z--you're blaming Heilman for last night??? how many times with runners in scoring position did the Mets fail to come through? Heilman threw 53 pitches yesterday--one of them was bad.

As for the Rangers--I can only speak for myself when i say we're dealing with devils that we don't know (Naslund, Zherdev, Redden) all of whom with question marks, rather than the devils we do know (Jagr, Straka), so that the question marks seem in bold face.

And I expect to see Korpi in rangers blue quite a bit next year.

obviously, getting rid of Backman was great, but we did have to trade a decent 25 year old away (Tyutin) to get this Russian slacker.

If he doesnt perform, he might be the next Valeri Kamensky (but younger obviously).

Effigy

Russian slaker? So we begin now. Lets hang this kid from the highest yardarm. Heck, we haven't seen him skate yet, so drawing conclusions makes real sense. How 'bout starting the booing on this blog, eh? BOO!BOO!BOOOOOOOO! And while we're at it, lets blame him for Gomer's bad year and Hanks very high GAA. And while we're at it, lets get rid of Renney and hire Nolan.

The kid will get his shot and we will be able to judge him later in the year, so lets just wait another 5 months.

Rangerbill

You forgot we are also blaming Zherdev for why the Mets lost on Saturday too, for why the Jets will go 4-12 and why the Giants traded away Shockey too.

Zherdev is also at blame for why gas prices are still on the rise, why CBS canceled Jericho and why Matty is only 2'4 tall.

Please if we are going to blame the kid for things before he as even shown up for training camp can we at the very least blame him for the important stuff?

Oh and one last thing RB please:

Those of us who are veterans here served in the army not navy so Zherdev's proper place would be the stockade

Thank you

Yeah, ya gotta figure there's a lot of productive space between Zherdev immediately fulfilling his promise and Valeri Kamensky circa 2000. Let's not create a self-fulfilling prophecy by putting the weight of the world in this kid's shoulders...although the potential of the player in those videos is pretty damn exciting.

Also, here's another draft bargain:

Brett Hull, 6th round, 117th overall, 741 goals, 650 assists, 1,391 points

Jess

I'm not a vet, but my wife was Dept of Army-civilian. Kind of the "radar" of her small flight facility! I just thought the idea of "hanging in effigy" fit a yardarm better! LOL

RB

LOL Well in that case we have to blame Zherdev for that misunderstanding as well

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