Does Nik Zherdev have what the Flyers need?by Mike Pantaleone
There hasn’t really been much talk about Nik Zherdev since it was announced he signed a 1 year, $2 Million deal a month ago, so I figured with the lack of news in Flyerdom lately, I would weigh in on Zherdev a bit more and offer some opinions.
Most of the articles you have probably read online about Zherdev aren’t exactly positive ones. He’s been called lazy, sloppy at times, and even a “head case”. He’s also been criticized for his lack of defensive play. Say what you will about Nikolai Zherdev, but his offensive talent can not be questioned. Zherdev put up 147 points (63 G, 84 A) in his 3 years with the Columbus Blue Jackets who, lets face it, were not a very good team during his time with them. He also put up 58 points (23 G, 35 A) with the New York Rangers, who also weren’t a very good team in the 2008-09 season, which was his most recent stint with the NHL.
I believe Nikolai Zherdev will have a break out season this year. Not only because he is joining an already highly offensive team, but also because there is something about Zherdev that most people have not put together yet. Zherdev is a Right Winger, something the Flyers have needed so desperately for so long now.
I’ve heard people say things like “Zherdev won’t be in Philly for long”, “He’s just a rental”, “He’s going to screw up the locker room”, but I’m not buying any of that. Sure, it’s no secret Zherdev has been known to slack off sometimes, but I think with Zherdev playing under Laviolette’s system, Zherdev will have no choice but to put in 110% every night and I think it will show come October. As far as Zherdev’s future with the Flyers, that I am not sure about. The deal is a one year deal, and if Zherdev does what I believe he will, he is going to command a hefty salary, one that the Flyers will have a hard time giving him. Nikolai Zherdev and Ville Leino will both be Unrestricted Free Agents, and Jeff Carter, Dan Carcillo, Claude Giroux, and Darroll Powe will all be Restricted Free Agents, and that is just the offense. Carter and Giroux will be seeking big raises, and the Flyers are going to have to make some tough choices.
As far as Zherdev being a Russian on a heavily Canadian Flyers team, I also don’t believe that will be much of a problem either. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see that being a very big issue. I know the Flyers haven’t had much luck with Russians in the past, but the fact that they signed Zherdev and essentially let Simon Gagne walk in his place shows that the Organization has faith in him and believes he will be a great asset. The hockey world is different then it once was, times are changing.
So, what do you think Zherdev will bring to the Flyers?