There's a right winger named Nikolai Zherdev(notes) who's a pretty good hockey player: Drafted No. 4 overall in 2003 by the Columbus Blue Jackets; broke 60 points in 2007-08; averages 0.65 points per game in his NHL career of 365 games.
Then there's a right winger named Nikolai Zherdev that inspires poetry like this from blogger Steven Ovadia of Puck Update, who saw plenty of the Ukrainian winger when he played for the New York Rangers:
Zherdev is talented, but he doesn't apply that talent consistently. He doesn't like to get into high traffic areas, so you'll often see him floating just off the boards, ostensibly taking himself out of the play.
I'm not sure how that style of play will go over on a team like the Flyers, that pretty much lives and dies trying to get between and below the opposing faceoff circles.
Zherdev doesn't have much of a defensive game, either. In fact, when he last played in the NHL, back in the 2008-09 season, he could be downright irresponsible, leaving the defensive zone too soon and not getting physical with anyone. Some nights, he looked like a human pylon.
Yee-ouch. This is partially why the Rangers walked away from his arbitration ruling in 2009, allowing Zherdev to flee for Atlant of the KHL for a season. But it hasn't deterred the Philadelphia Flyers from taking, uh, a flyer on the guy.
"Nik is a highly-skilled player who, at 25-years-old, we feel will be a good fit to our core of forwards," said [general manager Paul] Holmgren. "Prior to playing last season in Russia, Nik ranked as one of the top young point-producers in the NHL. We are pleased to add him to our team."
It's a $2 million hit for Zherdev (via Sarah Baicker of CSN Philly), which is a relief for Flyers fans. There was talk Zherdev was looking for $4 million, which was preposterous. The term's perfect; the salary makes this a reasonable gamble for Philly.
Whatever the salary was going to be, it's still so-long Simon Gagne, and thanks for all the cap space.
Said Philadelphia Daily News writer Frank Seravalli: "I think the move absolutely means Simon Gagne(notes) is packing his bags." He said that Zherdev puts the Flyers over the cap.