As the Rangers prepare to play the Isles, the beat writers have decided to pick up on the story that RFA-to-be Nik Zherdev and the Blueshirts have begun negotiations for a new contract.
Unfortunately the "him" in my headline is not Nik Zherdev. It's Glen Sather.
Giving Glen the ability to negotiate contracts, especially long-term deals, is like giving the keys to a 95 year old man who can't see over the steering wheel. He may have once had the ability to drive, but that day has long past and now he can't even see the road.
Talking to Z is a lot more reasonable than, say, handing a six year deal to an underachieving 31 year old defenseman who was ran out of his last city. But the only thing that mercurial Zherdev has proven thus far in his tenure as a Ranger is that he is unreliable. To hand a player like that a long term deal is simply dangerous. Yes, Z could turn into a game-breaking skill forward like Ilya Kovalchuk. He could also get bored of the NHL in a year or two and run home like Alexei Morozov. Or he could simply turn into an albatross around the neck of the Rangers like ... I donno, Scott Gomez.
Big money, long-term contracts should be reserved home grown products who have bright futures. They should not be handed to players heading into the downside of their careers (Redden), players who have never averaged a point per game (Chris Drury), players who have no heart (Gomez) or players who were other teams' problems (Z).
While the thought of allowing a player with Z's talent slip away is a little saddening, as an RFA the Rangers would get draft picks in return. Then again, if he would be so inclined to come back on a one or two year stint at a reasonable rate then, sure, bring him back. But to just throw cash blindly at players of dubious talent/character/motivation is just foolish.
Glen, please, put the pen down and step away from the desk. Slowly, slowly, slowly ...