A 15 goal season to date is not something to scoff at in today’s NHL. However, if you score 15 goals and fail to abide by Peter Laviolette’s system, that apparently warrants subsequent benching and a waiving of your 2 million dollar contract. Now Nikolai Zherdev waits for yet another possible destination in his long road to redemption in the NHL.
From the beginning of the season, it should have been clear to the Flyers ‘higher-ups’ thought that Zherdev was a player who put his needs before the team’s. In his days with Columbus and New York, Nikolai was never talked about as a “team player.” In his first few games, Flyers fans were treated to many dazzling tricks the Ukrainian-born, Zherdev, had to offer. He used his impressive stick-handling to elude defenders and create offensive opportunities. But there is always a price to pay no matter how much talent one player possesses. Zherdev’s defensive game, inconsistent play, and, ultimately, his lack of effort, did not sit well with Flyers coach, Peter Laviolette.
Laviolette benched Nikolai as a healthy scratch numerous times this season with hopes of sending a message to him to get his head out of his tail and play with the team instead of as an individual. Time after time, Zherdev was given ample opportunities to showcase his talents and secure a spot on the top nine, and each time, he failed to do so.
Now Zherdev sits and waits, twiddling his thumbs, to see if any team will take a chance on him and his lackluster play. No matter how much talent this guy brings, does any team still want him in their lineup? Let’s look at the facts.
Nikolai is currently on waivers at 2 million dollars. That is a hefty price to play for a winger who has a mere 19 points in 47 games on the top team in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have been trying to shop Zherdev for weeks now but rumors have it that there have been no takers, which seems obvious considering he still is dawning a Flyers jersey albeit in the press box. If Zherdev is placed on re-entry waivers (which is the most likely scenario), any team that claims him will only have to pay half his salary for this season, which might sound like a bargain.
Let me put yet another spin on it. Zherdev’s agent is the infamous Jay Grossman. In case you have been living under a rock all summer, Grossman is also the agent of one, Mr. Ilya Kovalchuk. The same Jay Grossman that proposed a contract for Kovalchuk that was rejected by the NHL and considered cap circumvention. Furthermore, some of Jay Grossman’s other clients include Anton Volchenkov, Anssi Salmella, and Johan Hedberg. Now that Grossman is buddy-buddy with Lamoriello and the Devils, it could happen that Zherdev ends up on a team that is an arch nemesis to the Flyers.
Is it likely?…With the way the Devils have been playing, recently, probably not.
Is it possible?…Anything is possible.
Whether he will end up on the Devils or any other team that is starving for a gifted, but extremely lazy and ego maniacal, player is unknown. But what can be written is stone is that Nikolai Zherdev will never play for the Philadelphia Flyers again.