NEW YORK – Fans attending the Victoria Cup featuring the New York Rangers are sure to be entertained. In the last two days, the NHL club has added spectacular forwards Nikolai Zherdev, 23, and Markus Naslund, 34, to their star-studded roster
Russian Zherdev was secured in a trade with Columbus on Wednesday, while Swede Naslund was signed as a free-agent from Vancouver on Thursday.
The New York Rangers gave up Swedish defencemen Christian Backman and Russian blueliner Fedor Tyutin to obtain Zherdev and American forward Dan Fritsche.
The New York Rangers will meet European champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the inaugural Victoria Cup on October 1 in Bern, Switzerland. The day before (September 30), the Rangers will meet host SC Bern. See front page of IIHF.com for ticket purchase to the Victoria Cup.
"It's unbelievable," said Fritsche, 22, who was the first Ohio native to play for the Blue Jackets. "I couldn't be more excited. I'm going to a Stanley Cup contender with an abundance of talent."
But the big acquisition was Naslund. The former Vancouver Canucks captain agreed to an 8 million, two-year deal with the Rangers.
The 34-year-old unrestricted free agent forward had 55 points (25-30) in 82 games with the Canucks last season. Naslund was drafted by Pittsburgh 16th overall in 1991.
He has recorded 823 points (371-452) in 1,035 career games with the Canucks and Penguins. The signing of Naslund means that the Rangers will have difficulties re-signing star forward Jaromir Jagr as the New York club does not have much space left under the salary cap.
"It's not an easy thing," Naslund said on a conference call. "I've been in Vancouver a long time. I've been a captain there for the last eight years. I have very fond memories of playing in that city and all that comes with that."
Naslund's new contract, which includes a $1-million signing bonus, will pay him $4 million next season and $3 million in 2009-10.
"I think for anyone who dreams of playing in the NHL, playing for one of the Original Six teams with the history and tradition, it's special," Naslund said.
"It was very appealing to me and my family to live in New York and be part of what's going on there. ... The overall picture was very appealing to me."
– with files from Canadian Press