Columbus sends Zherdev to the Rangers Staff

7/2/2008 5:07:49 PM

The Rangers and the Blue Jackets completed a two-for-two trade Wednesday, with New York getting younger and faster up front, and Columbus getting some experienced blueliners.

The Rangers sent Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to Columbus in exchange for Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.

Zherdev, often an enigma in Columbus, will be the key to the deal for New York.  He was the fourth overall pick in the 2003 draft and is coming off his best season in terms of points. He scored 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points in 82 games with Columbus.

Zherdev, however, has had a checkered career with the Blue Jackets that included a 2006 holdout - he followed up by scoring only 10 goals in 71 games.

"Zherdev is a player we've tried to acquire for a while," Rangers general manager Glen Sather said on a conference call. "He's a talented, shifty winger with lots of upside."

Fritsche was a second round pick, 46th overall, the same year Zherdev was drafted. A developing two-way player, Fritsche scored 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points last season in Columbus, and was a +2 on a bad team.

Tyutin was a second round pick by the Rangers in 2001, 40th overall. Although he has not shown the offensive flair he showed as a junior, Tyutin has emerged as a solid blueliner in the NHL and signed a four-year extension in February. The Blue Jackets will be counting on him to play a lot of minutes and provide stability.

Backman was a first round pick of the St. Louis Blues, 24th overall, in 1998. Backman has also not shown much offensive upside, his best season is 18 points in 52 games with St. Louis in 2005-2006, and durability has been somewhat of an issue. Backman has, however, developed into a steady NHL defenceman.