Zherdev and Huselius Back-Up Options to Heatley?

While the Oilers continue to wait on what transpires with Dany Heatley, it sounds like Steve Tambellini has been discussing alternative options should the Heatley situation either take too long or Heatley be dealt to another team.

A couple of names that have popped up in speculation are Kristian Huselius from the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nikolai Zherdev of the New York Rangers.
Zherdev, the more complicated of the two options has taken the Rangers to arbitration; but word is that regardless of what an arbitrator decides, Glen Sather and the Rangers will be walking away from Zherdev as their interests lie in finding a true puck moving center to play along side Marian Gaborik and possibly adding Sergei Zubov to their blueline. Sather's priorities seem to leave Zherdev without a home although still technically a New York Ranger..

Zherdev is wildly known as a highly skilled offensive winger the likes of an Ales Hemsky, but has been knocked in the past for being dramatically inconsistent at best. Having lost favor in Columbus, Zherdev seems to have seen his time with the Rangers end and Hemsky could be the instrumental piece that helps add Zherdev to the Oilers radar. Add to that his history with Oilers Assistant Coach Tom Renney (under whom he had the most success as a Ranger) and this rumour might have some legs. With Kotalik now gone, the Oilers are very interested to see what takes place with Zherdev's arbitration hearing.
Another name floating around is Kristian Huselius. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is also combing through the trade market. The paper lists the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks are possible trading partners. With Huselius listed as someone who could be falling slowly out of favor as a permanent 1st liner to play with Brassard and Nash, Columbus may be willing to move his $4.75 million cap hit.

The same knock on Huselius exists as it does with Zherdev; however not to nearly the same degree as Huselius is seen more as a player who has hot and cold moments throughout the season as opposed to extended periods of time where he simply looks like he'd rather be watching tv than playing hockey. Scoring 20 or more goals in 5 of his 8 seasons as a pro, Huselisu has the skill to score plenty of highlight reel goals.
Neither are widely known as gritty, tough to play against two way players, but can add that offensive spark the Oilers are sorely lacking.


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