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Where could Nikolai Zherdev end up?

While the possibility exists that Nikolai Zherdev could follow fellow NHLers Alexander Radulov and Jiri Hudler to the KHL, let’s examine the possibility of the 24-year old sniper staying in the NHL and which place he has the best chance of ending up.

Teams That Will Not Touch Zherdev

  • New York Rangers:  For obvious reasons.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: Aside from the fact the team has already said as much, is Nikolai Zherdev a Brian Burke-type player?  No chance.
  • Anaheim Ducks: I can’t see Bob Murray making a play for Zherdev.  Plus, the Ducks have cemented their top-six (Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Selanne, Koivu and Lupul).
  • Phoenix Coyotes: Ummm, they don’t even have an owner.
  • Calgary Flames: No cap room.  Although Brent Sutter and Nikolai Zherdev would be a fun dynamic to observe for an entire season.
  • Chicago Blackhawks: No cap room.
  • Ottawa Senators: Currently over the salary cap.
  • Philadelphia Flyers: No cap space.  Plus, Paul Holmgren and Nikolai Zherdev aren’t exactly made for each other.
  • Columbus Blue Jackets: Been there, done that.
  • Boston Bruins: No cap room.  Never mind the team still needs to sign Phil Kessel.

Unlikely Landing Spots

  • New York Islanders:  With a young club that has no real expectations of winning/making the playoffs, there is little chance they make a play for Zherdev.
  • Minnesota Wild: Providing a rookie head coach with a troublesome player like Zherdev is never a good idea.
  • San Jose Sharks: Aside from the fact that the Sharks do not have a lot of cap space, they also don’t need another player without a playoff pedigree.
  • New Jersey Devils: Lots of cap space but his allergy to defense would not click with returning coach Jacques Lemaire.
  • Colorado Avalanche: This team is in full rebuilding mode and I don’t seem them making a play for a player like Zherdev with that in mind.
  • Florida Panthers: The Panthers have lots of cap space but I don’t see a fit there among the team’s young forward core. 
  • St. Louis Blues: So much young talent here, they don’t need him.  Even if they did, I don’t think he’s a JD-type player.
  • Los Angeles Kings: Young team with a pretty established top-six that has not seemed interested in adding this type of player.
  • Buffalo Sabres: This team isn’t in need of young offensive players with talent, they need defensemen.
  • Dallas Stars: Marc Crawford is an offensive coach, but I don’t see Joe Nieuwendyk starting off his tenure as a GM with an addition like this.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning: This team has expressed interest in Alex Tanguay and he seems to be their number one priority right now.
  • Vancouver Canucks: Looking to add depth on defense, not up front.
  • Montreal Canadiens:  They have enough passive, skilled players on this team.
  • Carolina Hurricanes: Jim Rutherford has basically said his team is set for next season and they don’t have a need at forward for scoring.

Most Likely Landing Spots

  • Edmonton Oilers: They’d probably prefer a center, but Zherdev still would provide instant offense. 
  • Nashville Predators:  Let’s be honest, this team had a terrible time scoring goals last season.  After Sullivan, Arnott and Dumont, the scoring dried up quite quickly.  While he may remind the Nashville players of Radulov, he can score and only costs them money.  I’m sure it’s something they’ve considered.
  • Atlanta Thrashers: Not sure if Atlanta would be willing to spend more money, but Zherdev could play in an offensive system for coach John Anderson and play on the same team as Ilya Kovalchuk.

Where Zherdev Could Land a One-Year Deal

  • Detroit Red Wings:  Mike Babcock is a tough coach to play for and Zherdev wouldn’t exactly fit his mould; however, if he wanted to win and play with some talented offensive players, he could have an option in Detroit.
  • Washington Capitals: He could play on a team with Alexander Semin and Alexander Ovechkin, in a highly offensive system.  The Capitals don’t have a lot of money but if he’s willing to play on a cheap one-year deal to re-establish his value, he’d fit in quite well.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: If he wanted to take a small deal for one-year to play beside Malkin, the structure is there to make it happen.