- The Rangers - after strongly considering cutting him loose for nothing - opted to make a qualifying offer to Nik.
- Nik rejected the offer and asked for binding arbitration.
- No deal was reached leading up to the July 31st arbitration date. During the same period the Rangers sought after and signed Ryan Callahan before his arbitration hearing date came up.
- The arbitration hearing was this morning - both sides presented their sides of the story - and now we wait for a decision.
The Arbitrator can take up to 3 days. Which means we should know something soon. Unlike baseball and football, the arbitrator can choose a dollar figure between the Rangers and Zherdev's offer. When that's done the puck is in the Ranger's corner - they can accept or reject the arbitrator's decision - even if he picks the figure the Rangers proposed in the first place. If that happens Nik Zherdev is an unrestricted free agent and is gone. Arbitration can get very nasty with the Rangers forced to denigrate their own player to make their case.
Common sense tells us that Zherdev did poorly under Tortorella. He was benched by John for not hustling back on defense after his own giveaway. And down the stretch and in the playoff Nik disappeared off the face of the earth - contributing zero points in seven playoff games.
It's pretty clear to us that the Rangers no longer want him. So why go through the arbitration process? Good question. As near as we can figure - the Rangers may still hope to sign and trade the enigmatic Russian, who despite everything, led the Blueshirts in points last year.
So - for now - we wait. But in our hearts we think Nik's time in NY is growing shorter by the hour.