Реклама в Интернет * Все Кулички
|18 сентября 2008
Rangers expecting a lot from Zherdev // newsday.com
BY STEVE ZIPAY
GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Ten minutes into his first Rangers scrimmage yesterday, Nikolai Zherdev was kneeling on the ice near the blue line, grasping his right shoulder after a solid hit from Dane Byers.
For the brass watching the 23-year-old Ukrainian sniper who is expected to be the team's No. 1 right wing, it was an anxious moment.
Zherdev, acquired in a trade with Columbus in July, went to the bench, missed one shift and later scored a nifty goal on passes from linemates Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund.
As it turned out, Zherdev, who scored 76 goals in three-plus seasons with the Blue Jackets, suffered a cut lip and swollen cheek.
"It's OK, just hockey," said Zherdev, a quiet youngster who struggles with some questions in English.
Learning the language is part of the not-so-seamless transition that Zherdev, the fourth overall pick in the 2003 entry draft who scored 26 goals last season in Columbus and 27 in 2005-06, is making. "One year [2006-07] I just scored 10 goals," Zherdev said. "Maybe this year there's more."
"It's a bigger adjustment coming over from Europe than people think," said Naslund, a former captain in Vancouver. "Not everyone's going to come over and score 76 like Teemu [Selanne] did his rookie year [with Winnipeg in 1992-93]. I've played him quite a bit in the West. He has exceptional skill, he's a game-breaker who can make those moves that a lot of guys can't."
Offensive talent aside, the 6-2 Zherdev has been subpar on defense. He was a whopping minus-19 in 2006-07. Last season, however, under the tutelage of coach Ken Hitchcock, Zherdev improved to a minus-9.
"We looked at him on video a lot and saw him playing better than a year ago and that's some natural maturation," said Rangers coach Tom Renney, who hopes to see more consistency, acknowledging that "we place a premium on play without the puck."
Right now, everything is "nice" for Zherdev, who spends the offseason in Moscow. He said he has visited the Russian community in Brighton Beach, but prefers Manhattan and its variety of restaurants.
In the final year of a contract that pays him $2.5 million, Zherdev is free to play in the Kontinental Hockey League in his homeland next season. "Whatever his options are after this year," Renney said, " we'd like to be No. 1 on that list."
Notes & quotes: Petr Prucha, who Renney described as being in "phenomenal condition ... one of our highest [test] scores ever," had a goal and assist skating with Chris Drury and Nigel Dawes in the scrimmage ... The trio of Dan Fritsche, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky "were impressive on first blush," Renney said ... Individual regular-season game tickets go on sale Saturday at noon via TicketMaster.