By Justin Adkins:
The Nik Zherdev as a Flyer era is pretty much over. Unfortunately, it never really begun.
Today the Flyers placed the underachiever on waivers.
“His agent [Jay Grossman] and Nik, they’re obviously not happy with the situation here,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “They’d asked us to look around for options. Nothing really came of that through trades, so we’ll see what happens with this.”
It remains to be seen whether any team will claim Zherdev on the waiver wire. If unclaimed, the Flyers would likely assign him to the minor league Adirondack Phantoms. If Zherdev decides not to report, the Flyers could suspend him, avoiding paying Zherdev’s $2 million salary. That scenario is possible as Zherdev may prefer returning to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League rather than play in the minors for a team that clearly has no use for him.
Holmgren will deal with that situation when it happens.
“If he clears? We’ll see. That’s a topic for another day,” Holmgren said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The request came to me if we could see if we could get him to another team and we’re following up on that.”
Zherdev hasn’t played in a game since February 10. Head coach Peter Laviolette basically said it was because Zherdev was useless.
“I think at times for me it was just the level of play,” Laviolette said. “It wasn’t the skill thing, it was the level and the level that he played. There were other guys that were performing better. So there’s only nine that can go in there – the nine I felt were playing.”
“I think when it comes to Nik, a lot of the decisions that we make in the locker room are based on where somebody is gonna fit in the lineup. So if you have penalty killers and different role play on the fourth line, now you’re talking about top-nine spots,” Laviolette said. “When it came to what I saw in the game itself in those spots, I had other players that were playing, in my opinion, better. I don’t have a problem with Nik, but we’ve been relatively healthy, which is a good thing. And it was difficult to find the place for him to play where he could have an impact in the game.”
Not surprisingly, Holmgren’s opinion echoed Laviolette’s.
“I think for periods of time it was good – he obviously has 15 goals in limited power-play time and limited minutes,” Holmgren said. “But over the course of time, things have eroded. I think Nik’s work ethic has probably dropped off and right now he’s just not fitting in. So we’ll see what happens. We’ll know more tomorrow at noon.”
Danny Briere understood why the decision to dump Zherdev was made.
“I think the message for the rest of the guys is you can’t let down; you can’t take your foot off the pedal right now,” Briere said. “It’s a message to the team, also: We’re not going to take any guys not working hard.”
That about sums it up for Nik Zherdev.
Here’s to hoping the rest of the league has their internet turned off Egypt-style and can’t read those quotes. Otherwise, Zherdev may go unclaimed, preventing the Flyers from moving on free and clear.
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