Waive Bye-Bye to Nikolay

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.
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Comrade of the Night-Evgeni Malkin

(Courtesy of Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Evgeni Malkin returned to the Penguins line-up ahead of the “Battle of Pennsylvania” after missing four games with a lower-body injury. He made his presence known by scoring the only goals for the Pens as their 12-game winning streak was halted by the Flyers.

Malkin tied the game for the Pens twice, first in the second period by beating Brian Boucher on a one-timer from the left circle and then from the blue-line in the final frame before Scott Hartnell got the eventual winner. Malkin had 8 shots on net for tops overall and finished with a +/- of -1.
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Zherdev arrives in the Nik of time

It is ironic that Nikolai Zherdev left for the KHL last season after having some top-notch years under his belt in the NHL (Three 50+ point seasons to be exact).  It is ironic Nikolai Zherdev after only one year of KHL play, he decided he wanted to come back to the league that shunned him away.  It is ironic that Nikolai Zherdev has come back to North America with a new attitude that couldn’t even be altered by the likes of Sergei Fedorov in his time with the Jackets.  It is even more ironic that the team willing to take the gamble to acquire him didn’t have a great deal of cap room and has been known not to have an affinity for Eastern Europeans throughout their team’s history.

Questions surrounding Nikolai Zherdev’s work ethic and ability to adhere to the teams style of play have always been brought up ever since he was drafted 4th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2004.  Zherdev was never the guy to play by anyone’s rules.  The world was his oyster and it revolved around him 24/7/365.  His production, or, in 2006-07, the lack thereof, ranked higher on his pedestal than the benefit and progression of his team as a whole.  So why, on Earth, would a player with his talent, skillset, vision, as well as his lack of drive, want to come back to a league that had put red flags around his name since he boarded his plane for a one-way ticket back to the KHL?
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Nikolai Zherdev, Coming to America(Again)

zherdev(Courtesy of The Hockey News)

After taking a year off from top hockey in the KHL, former New York Rangers winger Nikolai Zherdev returns to the NHL signing with rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers. Zherdev who originally started his pro career with the Columbus Blue Jackets comes back to the league having spent time with Atlant Moscow Oblast in Russia’s KHL last year.
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Maxim Afinogenov gets tryout with Thrashers(Updated!)

article_11315_2(courtesy of The Hockey News)

Former Buffalo Sabres RW Maxim Afinogenov has been invited by the Atlanta Thrashers for a tryout with the team. While this isn’t exactly breaking news since he was invited back on the 17th we are currently getting ready for some big changes to the site which has put our number one priority on the back burner.

Afinogenov spent most of the off-season in his hometown of Moscow preparing for the Russian National Team training camp with his former club Dynamo Moscow. He even took part in a fan appreciation day with Dynamo against their fans.

With rumors that Atlanta had gone after former ranger Nikolai Zherdev before his move to Atlant Moscow Oblast it appears that Afinogenov might be his replacement. It is possible that fellow countryman and captain Ilya Kovalchuk recommended Afinogenov as he was vocal in the signing of Nik Antropov earlier in the summer.

With Atlanta trying to do everything in their power to keep Kovalchuk who is entering the last year of his contract they might offer a deal to Afinogenov to appease the former Spartak Moscow standout.

Afinogenov spent most of last year on the injured list and but did however lead the Sabres in scoring in 2005-06 with 73 points. GM Don Waddell said of the recently turned 30-year-old “He’s a high-end guy, a skill guy, it doesn’t hurt. We’ll see what happens.”

In 569 NHL games he has 134 goals, 200 assists for 334 points. However his tendency to get injured has not helped him find a team since he became a free agent. If the Thrashers do not extend an offer it is highly plausible the speedy winger would return to Russia and most likely Dynamo to finish off his career that has seen goals such as this one below.

Day after this intial post Afinogenov signed a one-year contract worth $800,000.

Big Nik headed to Big Apple, Kalinin to the desert

courtesy of the Hockey News and Getty.
Wednesday’s trade deadline saw the Toronto Maple Leafs send Nik Antropov to the New York Rangers for a 2009 draft pick as well as a conditional pick in 2010. Antropov, who was excluded from Tuesday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils in anticipation of a move, will feature in the Rangers dismal power play as his 6’6 frame will help up front. The 29-year old Antropov is in the final year of a two-year contract and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. It will be just his second club in his nine-year career. With his addition to the Rangers roster he is tied with Scott Gomez for second most points this year, one shy of Nikoali Zherdev.

He could also possibly center Zherdev. Coaches often believe fellow countrymen or a common language can have a great chemistry, which may be the case here. While Antropov is from Kazakhstan and Zherdev, Ukraine, both have played in Russia. Antropov should feature in tomorrow’s game against the New York Islanders but his debut may be overshadowed by the return of super pest Sean Avery.

The Rangers also made another trade later in the day to acquire defensemen Derrek Morris from Phoenix for Dimitri Kalinin, Petr Prucha, and Nigel Dawes. The 28-year-old Kalinin, a Chelyabinsk native, only registered 1 goal and 12 assists in through 58 games.