Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Flyers reportedly close to signing winger Nikolai Zherdev

The Flyers have gone to Russia in their search for a winger to play on their top lines, reportedly signing Nikolai Zherdev, the former Blue Jacket and Ranger who played in the KHL last year. Zherdev, a Ukrainian, has been a solid offensive player in his 5 years in the NHL, scoring 20 goals three times and averaging 28 assists a season. The Flyers have yet to confirm reports that they have signed Zherdev and contract details are not known at this time.

In Zherdev, the Flyers have just picked up a player with a ton of offensive talent but who also has some questions marks about his work ethic. Throughout his career, Zherdev hasn't shown much drive to play hockey and has often taken shifts off, something that is not going to endear himself to Flyers fans. Zherdev also isn't much for playing defense, so you can consider him a one-dimensional player that's extremely dangerous on the offensive end.

Without knowing the terms of the contract, it's difficult to speculate on what the signing of Zherdev means for the future of Simon Gagne, although it's probably safe to say Gagne is going to be shown the door at any moment. Since Zherdev is such an offensive player, he will need to play on one of the top two lines, preferably with someone like Mike Richards that can help make up for Zherdev's defensive shortcomings. With the Flyers already having enough skill players to fill out the top two lines, someone has to go and Gagne is still the most likely target. As for the salary cap implications and what this Zherdev signing means to guys like Dan Carcillo and Darroll Powe, we have to wait and hear just how much the Flyers have left to spend.

In signing Nikolai Zherdev, the Flyers have taken a flier on a player who can be truly dynamic if he has his head on straight. Hopefully Zherdev sees his return to the NHL as his last chance to make good in North America and puts in the work necessary to make him a good player. I'd call the signing a risky move with a ton of upside; the Flyers could have just added a 30 goal scorer.

Update: Apparently, Zherdev has yet to sign officially. Word from Anthony SanFilippo is that a deal with the Flyers should be done within 24 hours.

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