In Search of Paul Bunyan

Since trading Ryan Smyth the Edmonton Oilers have spent untold hours and millions trying to find Ryan Smyth. It’s a giggle-causer to be sure, but it’s also galling in that it was an unforced error by management. I firmly believe they made their Smyth decision after G7 SCF (within weeks they’d also be saying goodbye to Chris Pronger) and the Oilers, Daryl Katz and the fanbase have been scrambling and waking up to nightmares ever since.

Which brings us to Nikolai Zherdev. He’s no Paul Bunyan (in photo) but he’s a skilled winger and a big enough name for the Oilers management group to sell to the season ticket holder. Zherdev has size (6.02, 200) and is a shooter (his 219 shots trails only Sheldon Souray and Patrick O’Sullivan on the current roster).

He’s also in a spot of bother with the Rangers. Headed to arbitration soon, rumor has it that the Rangers may walk away from the ruling if it’s too dear. The Rangers are hoping for something close to $3.25M and the Zherdev side is dreaming of a $4.5M payday.

Should the pricetag be in the $4M range I’d say the Oilers probably make an offer. Ladislav Smid is a player who might have value and the Oilers need to move a small forward so I’ll suggest Robert Nilsson as an alternate. Picks may also be involved.

Two things I believe we can be confident about: Kevin Prendergast was running his mouth when he suggested the Oilers will go to camp with this roster, and the Oilers are going to be knocking on some doors in the next 6 weeks. I think Sather’s phone will be ringing.

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