Nikolai Zherdev has apparently become the latest NHLer to jump to the Kontinental Hockey League, with the French-language sports television network RDS reporting that the Ukrainian has signed with Russia's Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
ALEX OVECHKIN: "SEE YOU, NIK!" Photo by NIKALE1
The reported signing comes a week after the New York Rangers walked away from an arbitration ruling that awarded Zherdev $3.9 million US next season.
The 24-year-old finished with 23 goals and 35 assists and a plus-6 rating last season for the Rangers, appearing in all 82 games for the second straight season.
Zherdev will join former NHLers Alexander Perezhogin and Alexander Radulov on the KHL team.
He appeared to be on target to reach career highs after a strong first half last season but fizzled down the stretch. Zherdev had just four goals and four assists in the last 16 regular-season games and was held without a point in seven playoff contests.
"With the additions we've been able to make this summer, we feel we've been able to add scoring and offence from the wing position," Rangers general manager Glen Sather said in a statement after the team's decision to walk away from the ruling.
"Following the arbitration process and subsequent award given, we feel it is in our best interest to walk away and continue to explore all available options to improve our roster."
Zherdev was traded to the Rangers from Columbus just 13 months ago in a four-player deal. He earned $3.25 million last year, and has scored 99 goals and 140 assists in 365 NHL games over five seasons. The Blue Jackets selected him fourth overall in the 2003 NHL entry draft.
The six-foot-two, 203-pound winger was recently left off an invitation list announced for Russia's Olympic hockey camp later this month in Moscow.