Rangers Rumors & News
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According to TSN, the New York Rangers have traded defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.

Now that‘s what I’m talking about.

Zherdev is a 23-year-old Russian right wing, drafted by Columbus in 2003 with the 4th overall pick.  After a breakout ’05-’06 season in which the sniper recorded 27 goals and 27 assists, Zherdev was a bit of enigma to the Jackets in ’06-’07 when he scored just 10 goals and finished with 32 points.  The kid’s slump was short-lived, however, as he bounced back last season, recording 26 goals and 35 assists.  

Without question, Zherdev is the first-line scoring wing that the team so desperately sought to partner with center Scott Gomez.  Does this mean the end of the Jaromir Jagr Era on Broadway?  It sure looks that way, though the team technically still has the cap space to squeeze Jagr in – that is, if his feelings aren’t too badly hurt.

It certainly appears as if the team is moving on, however – a season too late, in my opinion.  Jagr’s ticket out of town was punched the day he proved incompatible with Sather’s free agent prizes from a year ago, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury.  Neither pivot was brought here to watch Brandon Dubinsky assume the role of first line center.  With Jagr now out of the mix, the team can resume its efforts to build around the pair, with Drury presumably assuming the team captaincy, and Gomez shouldering the offensive load along with the newly acquired Zherdev.

This is a dream scenario for yours truly, who, at season’s end, urged the Rangers to ditch Jags and find a scoring winger to pair with Gomez.  Marian Hossa seemed the obvious candidate, but the younger and cheaper Zherdev trumps that hypothetical scenario.

Fritsche, meanwhile, by all accounts is a serviceable third line player with size and decent offensive skills. With the free agent signings of Aaron Voros and Patrick Rissmiller, and now the acquisition of Fritsche, there promises to be a fair amount of competition for roster spots on the team’s third and fourth lines.  Going into training camp, nothing is guaranteed for guys like Blair Betts, Colton Orr, and Ryan Hollweg.  I also wonder, if perhaps another move is on the way, to alleviate some of the clutter amongst the forward corps.  In addition to coming out on top talent-wise in this swap, the team bought themselves some cap relief – a precursor, perhaps, to another move, surmises the Journal News’ Sam Weinman.

Exciting times on Broadway. More as it develops.

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