You were born in November of that year and grew up to be a gifted, if somewhat mercurial hockey player. You were drafted by something of a backwater club in the NHL and developed a reputation for moody, inconsistent play, despite your evident gifts.
But along comes the big city team, bright lights and bulging checkbook. They trade for you, thinking that they can unleash the offensive weapons you have at your disposal. You play in all 82 games, but finishing with 23 goals and 58 points is not quite what folks had in mind. It gets worse when you play in seven playoff games and don't register a single point in any of them.
Your contract is up, but you remain a "restricted" free agent with rights to arbitration. You present your case to the arbitrator; the club presents its case. The thing is, the club is said to present a number that is actually below the amount it had to offer to qualify you as a "restricted" free agent. Doesn't say a lot about what the club thinks of you, does it?
But the arbitrator has other ideas. The arbitrator looks at your record -- in your career so far you have averaged 22 goals per 82 games (you had 23 last year) and 54 points per 82 games (you had 58 last year). Your numbers last year (23-35-58) look an awful lot like those of Kristian Huselius (21-35-56) in Columbus (where you toiled) or, for that matter, a couple of your teammates -- Chris Drury (22-34-56) and Scott Gomez (16-42-58).
Huselius has a salary cap hit of $4.75 million. Drury comes in at $7.05 million, Gomez at $7.357 million (which is now Montreal's burden).
The arbitrator gives you $3.9 million.
Are you a bargain? Or are the New York Rangers going to walk away from the arbitrator's decision, Nikolai Zherdev?
It does make one wonder, though, what another player born in 1984 -- one who has averaged 35 goals and 70 points per 82 games in his career -- might might see on an offer sheet next year when he, too, will be a restricted free agent...