The always informative and indispensable Blueshirt Bulletin have a great “scoop” today, alerting fans to a report out of Russia that Avangard Omsk general manager Anatoly Bardin is coming to New York with the “main obective” of opening negotiations with Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr.
If you recall, Jagr played for Omsk during the NHL lockout, and vowed to return to the Russian League one day.
Another item on Bardin’s agenda will almost certainly be to jump-start negotiations with the Rangers concerning Avangard forward Alexei Cherepanov, who fell to the Rangers in last year’s draft amid concerns about signability due to the 19-year-old’s obligation to Avangard Omsk. Evidently those concerns have proven to be legitimate, as reports indicate that talks have stalled between the two clubs. Via the Blueshirt Bulletin:
There is still an awful lot of negotiating to be done, both with Jagr and Cherepanov. How Jagr and the Rangers fare in the upcoming playoffs will have a lot of bearing on where Jagr ends up next season. The Cherepanov situation is more complex, with pressure bearing down on Sather from a number of different quadrants beyond Avangard, which is believed to be asking for a $2 million transfer fee, according to Jess Rubenstein’s sources in Europe, and may now be using Jagr as an additional chip.
There is also the Russian Hockey Federation and the Russian government, trying to create a new league that can compete with the NHL and therefore in need of NHL-caliber talent. Then there is the NHL, which would be unhappy if the Rangers blow their unofficial cap of $200,000 on Russian transfer fees, which matches the ceiling in their agreement with the IIHF, especially since that agreement is up for renewal and may be significantly affected by any Ranger agreement with Avangard. The IIHF itself is worried about European players being drained off to North America to play in minor leagues. And IIHF member nations, most notably Sweden and the Czech Republic, would love to see transfer fees increase an order of magnitude from what they’re currently getting to what Avangard is rumored to be demanding for Cherepanov.
And let’s not forget Ranger fans. They will be clamoring for the Rangers to make sure to bring Cherepanov, the team’s first round draft pick last year, to North America before his rights expire in June 2009. If Cherepanov is deemed to not be ready for the NHL yet, it may well behoove the Rangers to let him stay in Avangard another season until his contract expires. That would be the path of least resistance all the way around, although they will then be walking a tightrope to get him signed before his rights expire. How this all plays out is something that fans will just have to wait and see.
In the wake of these developments, the Rangers beat writers spoke to Jagr today and asked the Czech forward if he had any meetings set up with Bardin. Via Sam Weinman’s Rangers Report:
“We’re going to go to dinner and all that stuff….I’m just kidding,” Jagr said. “I don’t have any plans.”
Jagr then pointed out that maybe Bardin was coming to New York only to talk about Alexei Cherepanov. Maybe, it was noted, the two European wings have been traded straight up from one another.
“Good trade,” he said. “It would be good for the Rangers.”
Jokes aside, I wouldn’t doubt the fact that Jagr would listen if his old team wanted to talk. He originally said that it was the first he had heard about Bardin coming, then corrected himself later and said he had heard “something” about it.
But I don’t think he would have any sort of conversation about next year while the Rangers are still playing.
Oh really? Then I suppose Anatoly Bardin is making a long trip for nothing. Sam’s a great reporter, but I think he’d submit to torture before saying a bad word about a player. Personally, I’m not inclined to give Jagr the benefit of the doubt, and I’m reminded of words I had previously written in this space.
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