Rangers Free Agency: Sather To Antropov: "Snowball's Chance In Hell"

Greg CaggianoSenior Writer IJune 28, 2009

Putting aside the dilemma of whether to re-sign a slew of their lower-tier free agents such as Blair Betts, Freddy Sjostrom, Paul Mara, and Derek Morris, the Rangers have been focused on what to do with the tandem of Russian scorers that will be hitting free agency this coming Wednesday.

The one restricted free agent of the pair, Nikolai Zherdev, has been made an offer of a one year deal worth $3.25 million, the same exact contract he had last season. Antropov, on the other hand, is looking for a multi-year deal in the range of four or more years for about $5 million a season, an absolutely ludicrous amount.

The Rangers must figure out which one to bring back, as it is not likely that both can be tendered a fair contract that is deemed acceptable. Zherdev was one of the more frustrating Rangers last season; showing flashes of brilliance through certain stretches of the season before disappearing completely later in the year and in the playoffs.

Antropov, though, was acquired by the Rangers in a deadline deal for a second-round pick and provided just what the team needed; size and a scoring touch and added 7 goals and 6 assists in 18 games. For a player who has never scored more then 26 goals in a season, the fact that he is asking for that much money is an insult.

The general manager of the New York Rangers, Glen Sather, who very rarely makes public statements told the Post, "Based on the first volley from agent Mark Gandler, there is a slim chance of Antropov returning." and later, "There's a snowball's chance in hell that's going to happen. It's ridiculous. I hate to criticize an agent, but let's have a little bit of reality here."

So, now, it looks like the better player of the two will not be brought back unless he lowers his asking price. It's hard to believe that any team would pay him that, so expect to see him on the market for a while until his price comes down.

Restricted free agent Zherdev, as mentioned earlier, has been made a qualifying offer of $3.25 million, but Sather has yet to even speak with his agent yet, "I don't know whether he is going to accept it, though; I can't get an answer from his agent."

The Rangers are also having to deal with resigning two more restricted free agents, the homegrown Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. It is rumored that they will be getting at or slightly under the $2 million range and that both contracts will be similar. The team has kept conversations very hush of late so it's likely that we won't know the exact situation until a couple of days from now.

Greg Caggiano is a writer on Bleacher Report covering the New York Rangers. He has a New York area sports teams blog called Metro-Sports, where you can read great articles about all professional sports teams that play in the area by a dedicated team of young writers.