Nikolai Zherdev Dealt to New York Rangers

Matthew FalkenburyCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2008

Day two of the NHL Free Agency period has come and gone and the New York Rangers were once again busy, this time on the trade market.

A day after signing both Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival to long term deals, the Rangers sent defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to Columbus in exchange for wingers Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.

“Zherdev is a talented player—a shifty, talented winger with nothing but upside written all over him,” Rangers general manager Glen Sather said. “We’re trying to get younger and faster. There’s a certain chemistry we’ve been trying to build here for the past five years. We were looking to make a deal (for Zherdev and Fritsche) before the management change there last year. This deal sort of fell into our laps, but it’s something we were thinking about for a while, though we never talked about who would go the other way.”

Zherdev, often a player the went missing on the ice in Columbus, will be the key to the deal for the Rangers. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2003 draft and is coming off his best offensive season.

He scored 26 goals and added 35 assists in 82 games with Columbus. Fritsche was a second round pick, also in 2003. A developing two-way player, Fritsche scored 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points last season in Columbus, and had a plus-two rating on a bad team.

After parting ways with Sean Avery and Martin Straka and watching Marian Hossa sign with the Red Wings, the Rangers were in a bind for offensive firepower to surround centers Brandon Dubinsky, Scott Gomez, and Chris Drury.

I have mixed emotions about this move. I loved Fedor Tyutin and thought he was on his way to great things, but to get a good young player, have to give up something.

This deal has two parts. If you look at it as Tyutin for Zherdev and nothing more, this trade will be judged by the production those two players give to their new teams. But the trade also includes the dump of Christian Backman's salary for another young winger looking for more spotlight time in Fritsche, much like Freddy Sjostrom.

At the end of the day the Rangers didn't get Hossa and let Sean Avery walk over $3 million (they also got $2.5 million off the books by trading Backman) and have no assurances that Mats Sundin or Jaromir Jagr will be New York Rangers next season.

The Rangers got younger and have a chance to make out like bandits in this deal, but time will tell. But do Rangers fans want to wait?