Nikolai Zherdev’s Return


Thanks to the Philadelphia Flyers, three-time 20+ goal/50+ point winger Nikolai Zherdev has returned to the National Hockey League, on a one-year contract worth $2.0 million.


Zherdev is returning after a one-year stint in the Kontinental Hockey League.  He last played in the NHL for the New York Rangers, putting in one of his best performances in 2008-09 where he scored 23 goals and 35 assists while playing in all 82 contests.  As a restricted free agent, the Rangers chose to qualify Zherdev at $3.25 million to retain his rights; however, after Zherdev was awarded a $3.9 million contract in arbitration they opted to walk away, likely in part because of a lacklustre playoff performance by Zherdev (7GP – 0G – 0A – 0PTS, –3) Not finding a team willing to meet his price in the NHL, Zherdev went to the KHL.


Now, a year later, the price has come down markedly, and Zherdev will earn just over half that arbitration award with the Flyers.


It’s a fairly low-risk gamble for the Flyers (although it does put them over the salary cap) in that the term is limited to a single year and the dollar figure isn’t especially high.  Based on his last two NHL seasons, it might seem that the Flyers are getting a bargain, even given Zherdev’s weak points (defence, consistency, getting along with coaches).  I don’t see it that way; I think the Flyers paid pretty much all that Zherdev is worth right at the moment.


Zherdev played for a good team last season; Mytishchi Atlant went 37-16-3, good enough for fifth in the 24-team KHL.  They finished the season plus-36.  Unfortunately, the top line of Sergei Mozyakin, Jiri Novotny and Jan Bulis drove most of the results up front, finishing the season a combined plus-68.  In contrast, Zherdev finished the season plus-2.


But even if Zherdev didn’t have a great season, his scoring was still alright.  Using Gabriel Desjardins equivalency numbers, we get the following totals over a full NHL season:


  • 82GP – 17G – 34A – 51PTS


That’s about what I’d be expecting out of Zherdev if I were the Flyers.

Comments (5)

  1. Think this is ville Leino insurance or think he (Leino) is the real deal?

  2. thats a good point, but at this point the flyers just have an abundance of skill, especially if leino is legit

  3. Should be interesting to see how the Flyers handle their cap situation how much are they over exactly. They are obviously looking to move bodies, (Gagne, Carter or Briere being the most likely). This just adds a little insurance on the wing to go with their talented centers for next season.

  4. I don’t get the timing of this move… I imagine Zherdev didn’t have a bunch of NHL teams calling him this summer. IMO the Flyers kind of jumped the gun a bit by signing him and going over the cap, before having moved a body.
    Now every other GM has Holmgren bent over a barrel whenever he calls for a trade offer – he put himself in cap hell and I think it was avoidable.
    Just tell Zherdev to wait up until a trade is made to free up the space, then sign him – not the other way around.

  5. khl looming makes Russian signings problematic.

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