Thanks to loyal ally A2B for bringing the Zherdev rumors to our attention. The question I have, however, is do we really want him?
Zherdev is a decent player. In Colombus, he was the second big scoring threat behind Rick Nash. That's why the New York Rangers happily scooped him up last year in a trade for Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman. However, the Rangers soon learned that they hadn't actually swindled the Blue Jackets. In fact, Tyutin and Backman for Zherdev and Fritsche is pretty much a wash.
While it's nice that he can play on either wing, Zherdev really isn't anything more than a proven 20 goal scorer. That's right, I said 20, not 40. He's got decent size, pretty good puck handling skills and speed, but can only be expected to pot about 20-25 biscuits a year.
That's nothing to sneeze at, you say? Ok, given. But where do you put him? He can play either wing, so you can plug him in anywhere you find an opening in the lineup.
Top line? Let's see... I don't think you're going to get anyone to agree that he should be bump Kovy down to the second line, so he won't play left wing on that one. Right wing? Is he better than Antropov or Little? Probably not.
Ok, second line, then. Is he better than Slava Kozlov? Not unless our own Russian Sherlock shifts off of this mortal coil like he did two seasons ago. How about the right side then? Again, that's the position held by either Little or Antropov.
So we're down to putting Zherdev on the third line. Army is anchoring one side of that line with his own size and 20 goal reliability, and Marty the Party is working the faceoff dot. Everyone in the blogosphere has been penciling in a rotation of Kane/Stapleton/Crabb or some other combination of young talent in that spot.
Zherdev is a known entity that would solidify that third line. But can you get him for third line money? This team has a painful history of paying third line players first line money, and no one wants to return to the Bobby Holik days. I'd rather develop some young talent for $550-850k a year than to overpay Zherdev to fill that slot.
But by all means, if DW can convince him to take 1-2.25 million and play a third line role in John Anderson's system, then go for it.