NHL News and Rumors – Wednesday August 5, 2009

Rangers let Nikolai Zherdev walk, make wing unrestricted free agent

Gainey leaves door open for big trade

Clock ticking on Heatley


Rangers let Nikolai Zherdev walk, make wing unrestricted free agent

Michael Obernauer – DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

The Rangers have walked – no, run – away from the $3.9 million an arbiter awarded Nikolai Zherdev, granting the Ukrainian winger unrestricted free agency and freeing the Rangers to devote that money toward other positions of need – like, say, center.

The Rangers let the mercurial Zherdev walk just 13 months after grabbing him amid much optimism in a trade with Columbus. That deal sent Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to the Blue Jackets, and since Dan Fritsche and Zherdev have both been cut loose since January, the Blueshirts have nothing left to show for it.

Zherdev, 24, rejected the Rangers’ $3.25million qualifying offer in June and was seeking a deal in the neighborhood of $4.5million. The Rangers refused to up their offer by a single penny.

“It’s not a surprise,” Zherdev’s agent, Rolland Hedges, said by telephone from Ottawa Tuesday. “In all fairness, we asked the Rangers after the qualifying offer if they were prepared to negotiate. And they said no. Glen (Sather) stayed true to his word.”

“With the additions we’ve been able to make this summer, we feel we’ve been able to add scoring and offense from the wing position,” Sather said in a statement. “We feel it is in our best interest to walk away and continue to explore all available options to improve our roster.”

Trading Scott Gomez to Montreal in June opened the door for the Rangers to make those upgrades on the wing but also thinned them up the middle. Talks are ongoing with Brandon Dubinsky, who rejected his own qualifying offer, for $638,000, and remains a restricted free agent. The 23-year-old was ineligible for salary arbitration this summer.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/hockey/rangers/2009/08/05/2009-08-05_rangers_let_walk.html

Gainey leaves door open for big trade

PAT HICKEY, The Gazette

I called general manager Bob Gainey yesterday and received the usual message:

“Hi, this is Bob Gainey. I’m not in. You can leave a message, but don’t expect a call back until I do something.”

There’s no reason to expect a call from Gainey, who was busy last month. He said goodbye to 10 unrestricted free agents and brought in seven new bodies.

The roster appears set with 20 players under contract and about $2 million left to sign restricted free agents Matt D’Agostini and Gregory Stewart.

So why are there all the rumours about an impending trade and some expensive, big-name players?

Perhaps, it’s because Gainey himself left the door open on July 1 when he announced the first wave of acquisitions and said he had until October to find the elusive big centre.

Or maybe it’s because the salary cap and Dany Heatley’s desire to be traded have set forces in motion.

The most common rumour involves a hockey ménage à trois involving San Jose, Ottawa and the Canadiens. The bottom line is Montreal gets big centre Patrick Marleau; Heatley goes to San Jose and Ottawa gets Tomas Plekanec and Jaroslav Halak and/or Roman Hamrlik.

The problem is that the numbers don’t add up. All three teams are up against the cap and, while Ottawa and San Jose would get much need relief by dumping Heatley and Marleau, they’d be in the same mess by adding contracts.

http://www2.canada.com/topics/sports/hockey/canadiens/story.html?id=8ad92523-abc5-42ed-a0e8-8498d5ed355b

Clock ticking on Heatley

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson has to decide if he’s serious about acquiring Dany Heatley.

League sources say the Sharks are the only remaining suitor for the disgruntled Senators winger after the Edmonton Oilers dropped out of the running last week.

But a deal won’t happen unless Wilson pays Senators GM Bryan Murray’s asking price — and pays it soon.

As first reported by Sun Media on the weekend, Murray confirmed he still has an “option” to fulfill Heatley’s trade request. However, indications are Wilson is dragging his feet and has to step up his efforts if a trade is going to happen this week.

“There comes a time where you have to stop trying to manipulate the process and get down to serious business,” said a league executive Monday.

Wilson has been telling reporters in San Jose he’s going to make changes in the wake of the club’s first-round playoff exit, but he’s been all talk and no action.

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/Ottawa/2009/08/03/10355906-sun.html