July 10 Philadelphia Inquirer
“Days after reports surfaced that free-agent forward Nikolai Zherdev was inching closer to returning to the NHL, the former fourth overall draft pick signed a one-year deal with the Flyers on Friday.
Zherdev’s signing probably means the end of Simon Gagne’s 10-year career with the Flyers. Zherdev signed for $2 million, which put the Flyers about $1.4 million over the $59.4 cap.
Gagne, who has a $5.25 million cap hit, told a Quebec TV station earlier this week that he had not waived his no-trade close, but the Flyers disputed that.
By adding Zherdev, the Flyers instantly bolstered their lineup. The 6-foot-2 right winger, who played in Russia last season, proved himself as an able scorer over five NHL seasons. But his unflattering reputation initially made him a long shot to join the Flyers.
Boston and Buffalo reportedly were courting Zherdev as well.
Throughout Zherdev’s career, question marks have been raised about his character, work ethic, and consistency. Some observers had even deemed him a liability in the locker room after he clashed with Columbus Blue Jackets team officials about his contract in 2006.
But the Flyers’ short-term commitment to Zherdev protects them from much risk, and general manager Paul Holmgren – as evidenced by the signing of goalie Ray Emery – has shown a willingness to take a chance on players with questionable reputations.”