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07-11-2008, 09:02 AM
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This is being talked about a bit on our boards, as well.

Zherdev did like Columbus, by the way. I was just posting some of his old (and new) comments. He liked it for being "quiet, calm," and he didn't feel like he needed a change in scenery.

That doesn't mean I think he won't like it in New York, mind you. He seems pretty adaptable, is all.

Also, even in the worst of the negotiations, he never was much interested in the idea of playing in Russia over the NHL: "'We asked Columbus to trade him months ago if they couldn't sign him,' Hedges said. 'As I've told everyone, Nikolai wants to play in the NHL'" (Hedges 2006). He approached it as a pure business aspect, and let his agent do what he wanted. Here are some snippets from an interview with him:

Nikolai, it is generally thought that a hockey player returning from the NHL during his peak did not achieve something in life. That is, his career is turning out to be unsuccessful. Do you agree?
N. Zherdev: No, I don't think so. Furthermore, I am certain that I will return to America. I simply have some differences of opinion with my team regarding my new contract. But they are being resolved.

Does the question lie in money?
N. Zherdev: I'll say this: I am currently being offered a sum, that doesn't correlate to my level. I know my price. That is the entire problem.

Is this a holdout?
N. Zherdev: No. I am simply preparing for the season in Russia. I do not yet have a contract with Columbus, but I may yet be offered one. So far, that has not happened, and I am practising in my homeland. But really negotiations with Columbus - those are my agent's problems, and not mine. Why should I fill my head with unnecessary questions?
A lot of fans at the time thought he was asking for too much money. Some of us were more cautious. He was being offered over 3 million less than Nash (5.4 cap hit). No one was arguing that Zherdev deserved Nash money (5 years, $27 million, after his Rocket Richard season--which was his second season), but when you look at their numbers before they were signed to contracts, $3.4 million is a huge difference, and Zherdev was already oozing talent:

Zherdev over his first two seasons: 130 games (he arrived in December of his first season), 40 goals, 48 assists, 88 points.

Nash over his first two seasons: 154 games, 58 goals, 38 assists, 96 points.

A Dispatch columnist, Bob Hunter, had this to say:

"It's hard to fathom why MacLean became so budget-conscious just when he got to Zherdev, unless he maxed out his credit card by giving money to everybody else. There was money for Rick Nash, David Vyborny, Manny Malhotra, Ron Hainsey, Jody Shelley and Rostislav Klesla, money for just about everybody but Zherdev and Dan Fritsche, who must have eaten a deep-fried mushroom with his fingers at one of the team?s cocktail parties."

There were several offers made from MacLean. One was $3.75 million over two years. One was $1.25 million for one year. Another was $6 million over three years. Some counter-offers were $2.75 million for one year and $5.75 million over two years and $9 million over three years. Even looking back on it now, it still sounds like a lowball offer from MacLean. To be fair, off-ice considerations were a factor in MacLean's offer, and I can respect that. But was an average of $3.4 million a season an accurate divide between Zherdev and Nash, at those points in their careers? Certainly not in my opinion, and right now Zherdev is still only a 2.5 cap hit.

Anyway, I honestly couldn't tell you how Radulov affects Zherdev. Zherdev's had his buddies traded away--or lost--before (Fedorov and Svitov), and even after all of that he still managed to say that he was happy in Columbus and had no desire for a scenery change. I can't imagine Radulov and Zherdev have even had much time to hang out in their time in the NHL. The best time for any of that is during the offseason, and Zherdev always returns home during that time anyway. I couldn't tell you what Radulov does.

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