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Should the Edmonton Oilers Go After Nikolai Zherdev?

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  Nikolai Zherdev #13 of the New York Rangers skates against the Washington Capitals during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 22, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Salim ValjiCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2009

Despite the Edmonton Journal reporting that the Oilers have no interest in him, the question has to be posed as to whether or not the Edmonton Oilers should attempt to sign enigmatic winger Nikolai Zherdev. 

And despite the new coaching staff with not one but two very experienced and capable men behind the bench in Tom Renney and Pat Quinn, let's be clear:  Edmonton is not a playoff team, not even close. 

That begs the question as to what the team needs in order to become a playoff contender, and does Zherdev fit the bill?  Regardless of the obvious lack of commitment to the game that Zherdev brings to the table, he is a top six forward and would provide immediate help to a team who's top six includes Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner, and Robert Nilsson; not exactly offensive dynamos. 

The only player within Edmonton's top six that you can safely bet will get better than 70 points this season is Ales Hemsky;  he led the team with 66 points last year.  Aside from him only Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Sourray had more than 50 points.  The need for offense is clear, and Zherdev fills that need.

The signing of Zherdev might also do wonders to Hemsky's game.  For years now all that's been said is that Ales is one of the most talented playmakers in the game who just needs the right linemates; and Zherdev just might unlock this talent we've heard of but seen only glimpses of. 

If the Oilers do sign him, Robert Nilsson would most likely be the odd man out and be relegated to 3rd line duty; thus the Oilers first line would be Zherdev-Horcoff-Hemsky and the second line would be Penner-Gagner-Cogliano, a significant upgrade from before. 

There are obvious issues when debating about whether or not to bring a player with Zherdev's reputation aboard, but with the pathetic state of the Oilers forwards and not to mention an impatient fan base; any change is good change and Steve Tambellini would be a fool not to atleast consider it. 

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