Nikolay Zherdevis earning the admiration of Flyers fans this week. He is having a heck of a week with the Flyers, working hard to prove that he deserves a spot on this team. Zherdev has been in and out of the press box this season since signing with the Philadelphia Flyers in July. Zherdev had a great pre-season leading the fans to believe that he would be a great addition to the Flyers offensive core. When the regular season began Zherdev’s play seemed to diminish. His play became inconsistent and his style didn’t seem to fit. Peter Laviolette has not been afraid to sit the talented winger to give him time to think about whether he wants to be a part of the line-up each game. This week Zherdev has replied with vengeance and is leading fans to believe that the message has been received.
Nikolay Zherdev is an Ukranian born player that moved to Russia to play in the Russian League. Zherdev was drafted 4thover all by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2003. He would play the 03-04 season in the Russian League but would leave mid-way through the season to play in the NHL. It was rumored that he left due to controversy with his Russian team. During the lockout, he would return to the team he previously played for apparently making peace with the club. Zherdevreturned to Columbus for the 05-06 season and signed a 3 year deal worth 7.5 million. He would have a breakout year with the Jackets playing 73 games with 54 points on the season. In the following season he struggled with consistency and it was rumored that there were problems with the coaching staff. In September of 2006 he was traded to the New York Rangers. In his free agent year the Rangers offered Zherdev 3.25 million to retain his rights through negotiation. During this time there were rumblings that he was set to sign with the KHL. Eventually Zherdev was awarded 3.9 in arbitration but the Rangers choose to let him go. Zherdev signed a 1 year deal with the KHL.
In July 2010 Paul Holmgren signed Zherdevto a 1 year deal worth 2 million to play with the Flyers. Fans were skeptical given his rocky reputation in the NHL. His great pre-season play then lead to inconsistency in the regular season. His constant turnovers and his lack of team play were evident on the ice. Zherdev has been in and out of the line-up since the season began but this week it has been a different tale. Zherdev still only has 2 assists this season but has scored 13 goals in 31 games. 4 of them coming this week! This leads me to believe that Zherdev is trying to change his style of play and wants to be a part of this team and not sit in the press box. If Zherdev can play the way he has played this week throughout the season he will give the Flyers management staff something to think about.
Time will tell if this player is here to stay or if his consistency issues will come back to haunt him. The NHL is not patient and won’t wait for anybody. There will always be a guy waiting in the wings for his chance of a lifetime to play in the NHL. Flyers fans are hoping that the player we saw this week is the player that is here to stay. He could be an offensive jewel for the Flyers but only if he wants to be. We can say what we want about him, talent, potential but time is running out and the opportunity is his for the taking. He just needs to decide if he’s going to take it.