If there is anyone left out there that still doesn't like the trade Howson pulled off last summer for Nik Zherdev just check out the following:
"We were hoping that New York wanted to negotiate with us," Zherdev's agent, Rolland Hedges, told ESPN.com on Wednesday night. "All we've had is a qualifying offer. It left us no alternative than to file for arbitration."
Rangers GM Glen Sather, through senior team spokesman John Rosasco, responded Thursday by saying that in fact both sides have had "several discussions" with the Zherdev camp, but "we're now going through the arbitration process after he elected to file last week."
An hour later, Sather signed Kotalik.
The qualifying offer to Zherdev was for $3.25 million (which happens to be $250,000 more than what Kotalik will earn), which his camp believes is less than what it can get in arbitration. The question is, would the Rangers honor the arbitration award, or walk away and cut their ties with the player? And if they do cut him loose, would the 24-year-old Ukraine native Zherdev land in the KHL, as many around hockey assume?
"To be fair, we haven't played the Russian card," Hedges said. "We can play in Russia tomorrow if we want to. We can make more money in Russia, no question; it's nontaxable. But Nikolai Zherdev wants to play in the NHL. The only way he'll go to Russia is if he's not wanted in the NHL at fair market value. We just want to see what New York is prepared to pay on a fair-market-value basis.
"If we're successful in arbitration and they want to walk away, then we'll see what the fair-market value will bring on the open market [in the NHL]. And if it doesn't bring it, he can play in Russia. But it's not his first option."
Ahh.. but weren't we told that Howson got owned in this trade? That Zherdev would thrive in a big market? That he would perform wonders now that he wasn't playing for a defensive minded coach like Hitch? Or that he would be happy in New York because it has such a big Russian population?
What's the saying..? You can't change a tiger's stripes.
I don't think there is any question Z has played his last game as a New York Ranger. If I were Sather I'd cut the cord as well. The question is if its his last game in the NHL? If his asking price doesn't lower than perhaps but my guess is some GM will take on a chance on him -- that skill set is just too juicy for 30 GMs to say no too.
As for Sather... perhaps Howson should overnight him over a bottle of tylenol? In fact, you're rootin Tyutin he should!