An update on Zherdev

Checking back in from my last few days of vacation. Took a few hours off  from putting a rather large indent in my couch to speak with Don Waddell for a series of training camp preview stories I am working on. I will be talking to John Anderson also.

I know you guys are eager to hear news about Nik Zherdev, but according to Waddell nothing is immediately on the horizon. 

Despite the reports from Russia, Waddell confirmed that the Thrashers have been in talks with Zherdev’s representatives. “At this time, nothing is imminent,” Waddell said.

I think a lot might depend on the progress of Evander Kane. The top draft pick had three goals in three games in the Prospect Tournament in Michigan. Waddell said he considers the team to have 7 or 8 top forwards. If Kane continues to improve, he would add to that mix. If not, Waddell said they could go out and see what players are available to fill a need – like a Zherdev.

That’s most of the news that came from our conversation. Ilya Kovalchuk is in town and worked out Wednesday. Waddell expects to resume contract negotiations when he returns from Michigan.

Get ready folks, it starts for real in a few days.

60 comments Add your comment

Wayne stuck in AL

September 10th, 2009
11:23 am

Forget Zherdev; we need good D-men…If we sign Zherdev, we’re gonna be looking at a lot of 6-5, 5-4 games. If this were the 1970’s, 1980’s, great…

We keep getting outshot, we need to cut down on the shots against/game and Zherdev won’t help.

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2009
11:32 am

Oh wait, one more bit of news I’m sure you will be interested in. Waddell said, and Anderson confirmed, that Nik Antropov will be the center for Kovalchuk. Anderson then added the Bryan Little will be the other wing on that line. That’s the plan right now, anyway.

ThrasherTim

September 10th, 2009
11:33 am

I am concerned about Zherdev’s fit into Anderson’s system and his work ethic. And zero points in 7 playoff games for the Blue-Shirts last year is a concern also, although the Rangers didn’t have much in total on Offense last season.

I would agree a lot depends on Kane’s progress over the next 2 weeks.

But overall, I say NYET to Zherdev.

Buzz

September 10th, 2009
11:35 am

Zherdev could be an elite force alongside people he LIKES. But he is a mercurial sort. I personally would give him a shot … he allegedly wants a 1-year contract in the $3-4M range, which could be a STEAL if he scores 35 goals and keeps Kovy happy.

Brendan

September 10th, 2009
11:43 am

This morning, at 9:30AM, on 680TheFan, Don Waddell was a great of the “Rude Awakening” Morning Show. And Waddell did specifically indicate that Antropov would be feeding the puck to Bryan Little and Ilya Kovalchuk. So, now reading it here, too, I’d say there’s a pretty strong indication the top line will be Kovalchuk-Antropov-Little.

There’s been a lot of debate about the best line combinations, if Zherdev came. If Zherdev was signed, that second line of White and Kozlov, with Zherdev, might be quite potent. Then again, maybe they’d bump Kozzie back to the third line and try Colby Armstrong or Evander Kane, with White and Zherdev.

Wayne in Alabama, I agree with you that finding a Tier I defenseman is very important for this club. But I just don’t see how they’ll do it, without pulling off some sort of trade. Even without adding a defensemen, this corps of blueliners is arguably the BEST in Thrashers history. A lot will depend on Kari Lehtonen. Who, Waddell said, is “doing very well after surgery” on 680TheFan this morning.

Brendan

September 10th, 2009
11:44 am

Err, make that “guest,” not “great.”

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2009
11:51 am

Brendan: It doesn’t sound to me like Lehtonen will be ready for much of training camp. I will know more on Sunday, but Waddell and Anderson indicated that he likely won’t be in a lot of real action, at least early in camp.

Brian B.

September 10th, 2009
11:57 am

I’m intrigued at the prospect of Zherdev. Am I the only one that thinks that maybe the reason this team keeps getting outshot is because the puck spends so much time in our end of the ice and so little time at the opposite end ? The best defensive pairings in the world are no help when the puck only spends 15-20 seconds of each shift in the offensive end. Bring in Zherdev, and the Thrashers can get production from 2 and maybe 3 lines, instead of only the Kovalchuk line. This may be simplistic, but maybe our defense gets better when the puck spends less time in our end of the ice and more in the opponents.

Sara

September 10th, 2009
12:08 pm

My question is what becomes of Peverley if he’s off the top line?

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2009
12:11 pm

Sara: Anderson wasn’t willing to speak more about possible line combinations. That will be a big part of the preseason games, to see who gets matched up. He did mention Peverley by name when talking about players that needed to continue to keep improving this season – along with Little, Bogosian and Entstrom.

R. Stroz

September 10th, 2009
12:13 pm

Lets take a hypothetical look inside Kovy’s mind shall we:

Kovy wants some horses in the stable before he re-signs and wants to see if the ASG and Waddell are serious about icing a quality team or just blowing smoke again.

Kovy lets Waddell know he played with Antropov during the lockout year and that the Thrashers could use some size on the team. Waddell GETS THE MEMO for once and procures Antropov. Kovy makes one check on the his list of requests.

Kovy talks with Zherdev and convinces Zherdev to give Atlanta a try for one year. Zherdev agrees and expresses his willingness to give the Thrashers a shot. Waddell DOESN’T GET THE MEMO. Waddell decides to see if a barely turned 18 year old is good enough to fill the skates of Zherdev. Kovy thinks to himself, well maybe they aren’t really serious after all. Kovy begins to question whether the Antropov signing is all the ASG and Waddell are willing to do, so they aren’t serious about icing a quality team. Kovy places an X on the list of requests.

That makes the scoresheet one check, one X.

So now, Kovy waits…TICK TOCK…TICK TOCK…what should I do. If Waddell had pulled the one year trigger on Zherdev, Kovy would probably believed the ASG and Waddell were serious, now he wonders.

Kovy waits to see what happens…the drama and distraction over his re-signing enter the equation of preseason camp. The players wonder if their captain will be around next year. Anderson has to deal with a distraction, not of his own making.

Good job Waddell, you just missed a slam dunk just like Josh Smith

Russian

September 10th, 2009
12:24 pm

Holly Cow.
Why did not Don invite Zherdev to the Camp???? This is a simple thing. He can be much better than 18 years old Kid. He scored 3 goals. VEry Good. Did he play against 25-30 years old man???? No. He played against young and unexpirience players. He is going to be fine and will be in top lines NEXT YEAR.
Anderson will make BIG MISTAKE if he put Antro on Center. Antro is not fast as Pever. Line should be Kovy – Pever – Antro.
Chris,
What’s wrong with Kari? How is he filling after surgery? Will he ready to October 3?
Damn it is not a good news. :-(

J.B.

September 10th, 2009
12:39 pm

Chris – I’m curious as to whether you know if Kovalchuk indicated one way or another to Don Waddell his thoughts on acquiring Zherdev. It seems a likely topic considering the two trained together in Russia for quite some time this summer. I realize DW is the decision maker and doesn’t consult with Kovy on every move he’s going to make, but such discussions with him and Gearon Jr. certainly made a difference in regards to Antropov signing in July. It seems to me that would be a relevant question to ask at the moment given the fact Kovy is currently in negotiations with the Thrashers on a new contract and further satisfying his stated ‘requirement’ that Atlanta take steps to acquire the proper personell to get us to the playoffs before he signs an extention. Any thoughts or insight?

J.B.

September 10th, 2009
12:47 pm

…for the record, I’m in the “Sign Zherdev NOW” camp. Russian’s right; at bare minimum they could bring him in for training camp the next couple of weeks to take a look at him.

If you did sign Z AND were happy with his play AND wanted to keep Kane in Atlanta with the big boys, doesn’t that just mean you have more options to choose from when the opportunity to trade comes around with unnamed player x who’s severely underperforming? Surely every roster player isn’t going to have a career year. There’s also the high probablility SOMEONE will be injured they’ll need to cover for as well.

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2009
1:06 pm

J.B.: I haven’t spoken to Kovy yet. He will be my first stop on Sunday. I know Waddell hasn’t spoken to him yet since Kovy got back in town two days ago and Waddell has been with prospects in Michigan. I will ask Kovy about Zherdev.

Russian: You make a good point and I think that’s why they are waiting. Sure, Kane excelled at the prospect tourney but the Thrashers need to to see how he performs against NHL talent. Also, there may be other players that become available once training camp begins.

Smoothie

September 10th, 2009
1:09 pm

Russian’s right, twill be a big mistake and cost us dearly in the early going to put Antro at the pivot to start the season. I don’t care how good Bryan Little is and how fast the wings are, but I think the center pool is quite full with Little, White, Pevs, Reasy and Slates. Perhaps Antro told JA that he can do it and would like the chance. But at the very least I think Little should be playing center between the two Reds.

Darren

September 10th, 2009
1:15 pm

Unfortunately, the problem with that approach, as you laid it out is that if they decide Kane suddenly doesn’t appear ready in training camp, then the Thrashers have to bring a guy during the middle of camp, which means it’ll take longer for him to learn the system and get comfortable with his linemates and his role on the team.

J.B.

September 10th, 2009
1:28 pm

of course based on historical comments, DW saying ‘nothing is imminent’ could likely mean Zherdev is outside his office door right now with a pen in his hand. I’m not saying the guy is a liar, but he keeps dealings EXTREMELY quiet in comparison to other GMs in my opinion.

LAC

September 10th, 2009
1:40 pm

Just ANOTHER in a list of F ups STUPID waddell has done for years and years. He has NO clue of how to run a franchise, and is without question THE WORST GM in the history of the NHL, hands down.

Sign this guy for a year, I really don’t see Kane being a big asset
this season, so what IS the problem ? Answer DUMB AS HELL don waddell,
just more of his do nothing know nothing I could care less attitude.

But when you are a CAREER LOSER like waddell, easy simple moves we can all see as fans of the game, are like as complex as building an airplane to simple mind of waddell… should have been FIRED after year 4 for sure !

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2009
1:44 pm

Smoothie: Perhaps I can shed a little light on the decision to start Antropov at center. Anderson said it is easier to switch him back to wing from center than the other way around. Does that make sense? He can always put him back at the wing.

Darkhorse

September 10th, 2009
1:59 pm

Yeah, Z’s probably staying at Waddell’s house as we write.

No telling what they will do, but I don’t see a problem of going through camp next week at least with the guys here and trying to figure out what’s working and not working so far. You still need to focus on who to put on the PK. Does Fritche make the squad in that role? If so, who goes to make room for maybe him and Z? Most teams want to get to camp over the next two weeks, see what they got, and then start calling around to fill holes. Maybe during that time some teams will decide they could really use an inexpensive player like White or Pavs. We make a deal, and then bring in Z or promote a rookie other than Kane who lights it up in camp to fill the forward spots out.

kracker

September 10th, 2009
1:59 pm

I figured on Pevs at C but I have to go with the Coach. Or I’m thinking Kovy wants to see Antro at C as camp begins, then they switch it up.

Russian

September 10th, 2009
2:08 pm

I am fine to see antro in Wing. It will be ok. I really want to give Pever a chance. Follow my idea.
Pever was in Nashville, played 3 or 4- line minutes. Then he got a waiver and came here as FIRST LINE CENTER. IT is Golden Opportunity, it is a Pure Luck (Mega Million Lottery). He knows that. He will do anything to make his skills and Carrer Grows more. He will make a name in Atlanta. IF he will play with Kovy and Antro, he probably make around 75-80 points easely. That is a reason I want to see him in First line. He will die in ice every game.

ranallo10 (in AT)

September 10th, 2009
2:11 pm

Top line is as I assumed it would be. Little is strong along the boards and will get somewhat dirty for goals. Antropov has soft hands and will feed or finish. Kovalchuk will be Kovalchuk.

I agree with Russian that a tryout for Zherdev would make complete sense. I also understand why Waddell wants to give Kane a chance now…he will learn MORE from Kovalchuk if he’s on the same team than if Kovalchuk walks during the offseason. Kane is part of the long term future, but at this time we’re not sure about Kovalchuk. It’s better to get Kane learning from the best in the league first hand (by way of playing with him, or around him, and especially practicing with Kovalchuk) than it is to just pin your hopes on a free agent and send Kane to the minors yet again.

I’m not an advocate for keeping Kane up “just because”, and I only want to see him in the lineup in an offensive capacity (i.e. not a third line shut down role), but I do understand why someone would still give Kane the chance to prove he’s ready.

Getting Zherdev in for a tryout seems to be a no-brainer on our side of the situation, but perhaps Zherdev wont fly into Atlanta unless he’s got a one-year contract signed and submitted to the NHL. If you’re Zherdev, what happens when you lose out to Kane during the training camp? Where do you go from there?

Raider Fan

September 10th, 2009
2:14 pm

Chris- let’s assume the Thrashers get a deal done with Kovalchuk and lock him up long-term. To me, this team seems like we could be a contender in a couple of years for the East if everyone keeps developing. Do you think we have a shot in the next 5 years to be competing for the Stanley Cup?

polskidawg

September 10th, 2009
2:19 pm

Kane will make the roster, third line at worst. This team will score goals, and I think (hope?) Kovy will re-sign by October.

To me, the big question is – Who’s in goal?

Personally, I hope (think?) Legace TAKES the job, Pavelec backs him up, and Kari find a new home in Colorado or Edmonton.

Midfield

September 10th, 2009
2:25 pm

Don just cannot catch a break from being thick as a brick. Not only in what he does, but in what he says too. But, sadly, this is in strict accordance with his job description in ASG personnnel file.

James Brown

September 10th, 2009
2:46 pm

Chris………..Where is Rick Dudley? Traverse City? Will you be talking to him to see where he is on
Zherdev and what input he has on bringing him in? I get the feeling he is pulling the strings on rebuilding the team…………just a thought

Smoothie

September 10th, 2009
2:52 pm

Viv, point taken. That’s probably a very likely reason and scenario.

ranallo reminds us of how good Little is in the corners and along the boards since he likes to get “dirty” for garbage goals. Preferably we want Antro to clog up the middle and use his wicked wrister in the slot behind the rushing Kovy or Little. However, Antro’s foot-speed could be a bit of a problem if he is expected to do what Peverley seemed to excel at last spring in getting back as the 3rd player (or even the 2nd) to break up an odd-man rush. I still think we could end up seeing Pevs centering Kovy and Antro. It will be fun to see what happens in camp!!

ranallo10 (in AT)

September 10th, 2009
2:55 pm

The same Legace who was waived by St. Louis last season and went unclaimed? You really expect him to WIN the starting goalie position?

R. Stroz

September 10th, 2009
4:02 pm

Don just cannot catch a break from being thick as a brick.

Midfield – And, like a tree, Waddell grows a new layer of thickness each year on the job.

Brendan

September 10th, 2009
4:03 pm

Waddell escaped the “Rude Awakening” Morning Show on 680TheFan without indicating if Kari would be ready for Opening Night or training camp. Now that I think about it, that’s quite a bit of an “omission” for the GM to make, as he addresses the sports talk radio audience. All he said was, “Kari’s doing well after surgery.” Waddell also added, that “the timing (of the surgery) was right to get it done.” And the curious part was … Rude/Perry didn’t ASK him about the ‘timing’ of the surgery. Rude and Perry also didn’t ask Waddell if Kari was still thought of, by him, to be the franchise goalie. At first, the obvious answer is, “YES, he is.” Waddell did re-sign Lehtonen. But he only re-signed him to a 1-year deal. If Kari is the “foundation” in net, he sure didn’t lock him up for the coming years. In defense of that position, Kari is still restricted next July 1. So, the team does have the option of matching any RFA offersheet, as well as “cutting him loose.” I think Manny Legace just wanted to get a shot, SOMEWHERE, to be seen. Then he can pursue his options from there.

Brendan

September 10th, 2009
4:04 pm

R.Stroz, I was sure you were about to say, “like a tree, I wish he’d leave.”

R. Stroz

September 10th, 2009
4:08 pm

Don’t worry about Kari, he’ll have carpal tunnel syndrome from pushing the remote and tennis elbow from doing beer curls.

Buzilla in CT

September 10th, 2009
4:11 pm

I am curious to know if Kari back hurt before or after he signed his one year contract? If DWAD found out afterwards is he pissed about it? Is that why he keeps bringing in more goalies to try out? Go get’em Chris…

….he wouldn’t tell you the truth anyway. He just isn’t that type to tell the press anything other than spin.

The Real Thrash

September 10th, 2009
4:38 pm

Don always says we have top NHL players. But no one else thinks the same.
And his record shows who’s right.
Can’t wait for camp!

R. Stroz

September 10th, 2009
4:49 pm

Sage of Bluesland

September 10th, 2009
5:14 pm

Wow. It would be nice to have multiple offense-driven lines. I agree with the person (Brian B.) who stated that this could actually ease the excessive strain on our defense (i.e. it’s hard for the opponent to score if you’re on his side of the ice–with a better offense).

I’m not worried at all, though. That blustering little fraud of a GM that we are cursed with will find a way to mess things up. He has yet to disappoint me in this task for the near decade he’s been here.

The results do, indeed, speak for themselves. Pat yourself on the back, Don. Oh, and pat yourselves on the back, too, those who continue to make excuses and continue to subsidize the incompetence.

Some believe in the old saying(s), “You get what you pay for–and deserve what you get.” Yes, you do. Wave the wittle fwag.

A27

September 10th, 2009
7:02 pm

Wow I cant believe Im saying this… Sage you are right and I agree with you!!!

mike

September 10th, 2009
7:27 pm

i don’t understand why z. not signed yet with any team (capitals, kxl) if thrashers playing delay, don’t belive he fall in love only with thrashers, also i don’t belive it’s dw desision. think like usial asg playing cheap, they not going to spend addition 4 mil for team they don’t care, and “yes man” says he undesided to cover asg butt, therefore he in charge for losing franchise for decade he have to feed his family (be nice with bosses). but again why z. depending of thrashers desision, mystery

Lee

September 10th, 2009
7:45 pm

wayne stuck in al- dude, did u forget bout kubina. he’s pretty darn good.

chris- great blog man, keep it up! man im seiked about the top line!!!! got any news on lehtonen? will he make the camp?

russian-excellent point.

man, if zherdev signed, i think we would hav a great offense. i mean u got kovy, zherdev, army, and pever. but now lets think bout the defense, now im not trying to be greedy but MAYBE we could think a little more bout the defense afterwards. maybe a decent D? huh? MAYBE????? idk. i know if we sign kovy and zherdev we will hav little cap space but maybe we can squeeze in another one. cuz frankly, the only REALLY good player is kubina. heck, hes amazing, but lets face it, he can’t be the whole team. yeah, yeah, i know we got boulty and thorbs but really, they might be better boxers than hockey players. they r ok, ya, they can pass the puck and sometimes score, but they don’t protect the team that much.

Now everyone blames lehtonen cuz he keeps gettin injured and he lets in too many goals but really give him another chance. maybe he won’t get as injured this year. AND, it’s not all his fault that he lets in too many goals, ya, those trickle goals r but not the good ones. the D is wat is supposed to help “protect the net” also, they r supposed to check, hit, kill each other out there. and wat does our D do?? hmm, well they either to none or very little of those things. now kubina might hav the guts to block some shots and actually help lehtonen. hes 6′7 or somthin like that for cryin out loud! ppl need to stop sayin lehtonen sucks when really, its our D. maybe we should forget about zherdev. MAN I WANT HIM SO BAD, but u know wat, i also want to be 6′7 but the thing is, U CAN’T!!!!! u hav to do wat is the best thing that will help the team. we hav an awesome scoring system, but really, some ppl think that hockey is scoring, scoring, scoring, fighting, fighting, fighting, well for the last time IT’S NOT!!!! wat about the D, and the goalie???? huh?? wat?? i didn’t know that those position exsited! u know i want zherdev, y???? cuz hes so frikin good, but u can’t just hav scorers, u hav to hav a D!!!! if u just hav scorers ur not really a team ur just ppl that can score. a team helps out each other just like the D helps a goalie. well if u say that lehtonen sucks, well then stop wishing for zherdev. cuz u really need a defenseman.

Ark

September 10th, 2009
10:14 pm

“Here’s a good read from the Falconer on the Kane & Zherdev situation…”

One thing that seems to me is wrong with this article is that it considers Z to be a solid, NHL-experienced, 60 point scorer. This is a very simplistic view IMO.

Z is a gamble. Skill-wise, if you sign him, he will be not only your top six, but probably your BEST forward. His potential is tremendous. The problem is — nobody yet (including himself) has figured out how to get him to fulfill this potential. Last season with the Rangers we saw two totally different players, one in the first and another in the second half of the season.

And so the key question should be (believe it or not) not if Z is right for Atlanta, but rather if Atlanta is right for Z. And here comes Kovy, whose personal relationship with Z puts him into an ideal position to provide that key influence that was missing in either Columbus or NY.

I also think they could be great together on the same line. Z is not only a scorer, but mostly a great playmaker and so, if he feeds Kovy, that might enhance the game of both. Could be a sick line IMO.

If this doesn’t work, than yes, he will probably put his 60 points, but he will spread them very unevenly, being great in some games, and totally disappearing in the others. If he gets seriously upset with something, he will disappear.

I personally would like you guys to try this. Just kind of feel this might turn out to be some very exciting hockey.

World Be Free

September 10th, 2009
10:36 pm

I think we need to sign Zherdev vs. just inviting him to camp. Over the hill guys and fringe players, like Blair Betts and Frische get invited to camps. If you invite Zherdev to camp and he plays well, he can go anywhere and sign. He’s still a free agent as a camp invitee.

Brent Sopel did the same thing 2 years ago, going to one camp and signing with another team. I canont remember the teams involved.

Zherdev reminds me of Jacques Richard.

R. Stroz

September 10th, 2009
10:41 pm

Heatley to Sharks, Marleau to Kings, Stoll and Frolov to Sens

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2009
10:54 pm

Heatley trade not true… oh well.

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=290650

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2009
10:57 pm

I’d prefer Zherdev as a camp tryout, but there’s not a chance of that happening… I’m fine with signing him and letting Anderson figure it out. It’s a good problem to have.

You can never go wrong trying to make the best combinations of Kovalchuk, Antropov, Zherdev, Little, White, Peverley, Kozlov, Armstrong and Kane… may the best man win.

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2009
11:11 pm

I am curious to know if Kari back hurt before or after he signed his one year contract?

I’m sure they knew, and I assume if he remains hurt, insurance will pay the salary expense. (maybe?)

I still think the signing was a matter of not losing his rights (RFA).

I’m waiting to see how this Legace domino plays out… if he gets a contract, something’s gotta give… you can’t have MacIntyre, Pavelec and Mannino all in Chicago. Certainly none of those guys are going to Gwinnett. And would we seriously sign Legace and send him to the Wolves when Kari heals?

R. Stroz

September 10th, 2009
11:19 pm

Kessel is reporting that he is going to sign an offer sheet. The offering team was not disclosed.

thrashyou

September 10th, 2009
11:21 pm

anyone else see that kessel told the bruins that he will not sign with them and will sign an offer sheet from another team. you hear that donnie?????

[...] -The Thrashers confirmed the have had talks with free agent forward and former Ranger Nikolai Zherdev. [...]