Could The Maple Leafs Be Interested In Nikolai Zherdev?

Jack PorterCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2009

NEW YORK - MARCH 21: Nikolai Zherdev #13 of the New York Rangers celebrates his assist as Sean Avery #16 (R) celebrates scoring the goal against the Buffalo Sabres during their game on March 21, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

With the striking of noon today, it appears as if the New York Rangers have decided to walk away from the one-year $3.9 million contract awarded to Nikolai Zherdev by an arbitrator.

This opens the door to a possibility that the Toronto Maple Leafs may take a shot at the young Russian. Zherdev will likely want a long-term deal worth at least $3.9 million per season.

Zherdev is seen has a dynamic offensive threat with the potential to be one of the best top line wingers in the game, but scouts say he doesn't play defense that well and inconsistentcy is the biggest concern.

Zherdev would immediately upgrade Toronto's offense, there is no doubt about that but the question becomes, does GM Brian Burke want to take a risk on a guy who is said to be almost "uncoachable?"

The answer should and will likely be yes.

Toronto's coach Ron Wilson has taught many players to live up to their defensive responsibilities and stay consistent, most recently Mikhail Grabovski.

Any deal with Zherdev would make the Leafs tight in regards to the salary cap so another roster move would have to be made to accommodate this move.

It comes down to risk vs reward and in this case the reward is higher than the risk. What do you think? Should the Leafs sign Zherdev?