Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Should Rangers Claim Nik Zherdev, Craig Rivet Off Waivers?

The NHL waiver wire normally gets a bump in action as the trade deadline approaches as teams try to create flexibility both in salary and roster spots.  Today’s waiver action has some intriguing names in former Rangers as Nik Zherdev and Ales Kotalik along with Marek Svatos and Buffalo Sabres captain Craig Rivet. 

The most intriguing of those names from a talent standpoint is obviously Zherdev who elicits very strong opinions on both sides from Rangers fans at the mere mention of his name.  The 26-year-old winger is currently on 1 year $2 million dollar deal with Philadelphia and has 15 goals, four assists in 47 games this year.  There are certainly flaws in Zherdev’s game and questions about his commitment still linger, but for a team like New York that has a talent deficiency and is without their most talented sniper, taking a no-risk chance on Zherdev has to be intriguing. 

The frustration with Zherdev and his inconsistency is there for everyone who watched him play and that has not gone away or he would not be on the waiver wire today.  I would frame the debate slightly differently and look at the Rangers current roster and our own frustrating talent but little results player, Erik Christensen.  You ask me right now whether I take a chance on Christensen doing something productive or Zherdev and I take Zherdev every time.  People forget that in his one season here he was tied for the team scoring lead with his 58 points so it is not like he did not produce overall and certainly at a better rate than the Christensen’s we keep throwing out there now.  

The only hesitation I have on Zherdev is the way he and Tortorella related when Z was here the first time.  Zherdev’s lack of attention in the defensive zone put him in the doghouse nearly immediately and he never got out.  For that reason I do not think the Rangers will make the claim to take the risk on the talent, but I believe they should.  Seriously, the worst thing that could come from making the move is that it busts and he gets benched or waived.

The other name that might cause some interest for the Rangers is Craig Rivet.  Rivet, 36, is a 16-year NHL veteran who has seen very little playing time this season.  He has clearly fallen out of favor in Buffalo and has been a healthy scratch for the past 16 games while they have been moving to a somewhat younger defensive unit.  I am not big on Rivet as a player at this point, but he would fill the checklist for a veteran defender who could provide leadership and he wouldn’t cost any assets unlike McCabe.  

Obviously you are also not going to get the upside of McCabe, but this could be a more expensive version of last year’s Anders Eriksson move where you bring in a guy you can trust just to eat third pair minutes and help balance out the minute distribution.  In all honesty I don’t see how it is better than just playing Eminger, but for whatever reason he has clearly fallen into the doghouse with Torts, so maybe they look at Rivet.  Another low-risk gamble type move, but low reward here as well I feel.

Svatos has no interest for me as the Rangers do not need another small forward and he has never regained the form he had his first year.  Kotalik is a heck no.