Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Posted: 12:23 p.m. Updated: 4:57 p.m.
By Tim PanaccioCSNPhilly.com
The short, unhappy Flyers career of Nikolay Zherdev ended rather harmoniously on Wednesday afternoon at Skate Zone.
Grinning ear-to-ear for the first time in weeks, Zherdev left the building saying No to interviews, hopped in a black Lincoln Town Car, and rode off into the sunset.
His agent, Jay Grossman, had asked general manager Paul Holmgren over the weekend in New York to waive him. Grossman felt there would be interest in his clients talents elsewhere. Holmgren complied.
For more than a month, Holmgren had tried to trade Zherdev, but was unsuccessful.
His agent and Nik obviously theyre not very happy with the situation and asked us to look around for options; nothing really came of that through trade, Holmgren said. Well see what happens with this.
If Zherdev clears waivers, he could be assigned to the Phantoms, in which case his 2 million salary comes off the salary cap.
If Zherdev refuses to go to the Phantoms, he would be suspended and his money comes off the cap. If he bolts for the KHL, his money is off the cap.
Zherdev could also remain on the Flyers roster after clearing, but thats unlikely.
Going into Wednesday, the Flyers had about 1.7 million in cap space. If someone claims Zherdev, the cost is about 400,000 unless that team has a player on long-term injury. Then they would assume his full salary.
If hes not picked up, Im not sure what direction were going to go, Holmgren said. Ill think about that. Hes pretty good insurance if one of your skill guys gets hurt.
Zherdev, 26, scored 15 goals in 47 games for the Flyers, yet struggled to remain in the lineup because of his sloppy work ethic. Hed be brilliant one shift, then slack off for two others.
He last played Feb. 10 when the Flyers hosted Carolina, earning just 7:59 in ice time, and registering one shot on goal.
He was a healthy scratch for six consecutive games under coach Peter Laviolette, who makes just one demand of his players: Make a consistent effort.
Zherdev came here with the reputation of having enormous skill, but terrible work ethics in both Columbus and with the Rangers.
The Flyers signed him last summer in free agency, taking a chance they could rehabilitate him coming back to the NHL from the KHL in Russia.
It didnt work.
It was a little bit of an experiment, Holmgren said. Seeing what he can do. For a period of time it was good.
Obviously, he has 15 goals and limited power play time, limited minutes, but over the course of time here, things have eroded and Niks work ethic has dropped off. Right now, hes just not fitting in.
That Zherdev was scratched for games in Carolina, New York and Phoenix, when the Flyers could have used another skill forward, but instead chose enforcer Jody Shelley, says it all.
Holmgren also said Zherdev didnt respond the right way to being a healthy scratch.
There was no way Laviolette was going to play Zherdev again as a Flyer.
When it comes to Nik, a lot of the decisions we make in the locker room are based on where somebody is going to fit in the lineup, Laviolette said.
If you have penalty killers and different role players on the fourth line and now youre talking about the top nine spots. When it came to what I saw within the game itself in those spots, I had other players playing better, in my opinion. I dont have a problem with Nik.
But weve been relatively healthy ... And it was difficult to find the place for him to play where he could have an impact in the game.
Laviolette also said that Zherdevs level of play wasnt consistent versus others on the club.
Although the Flyers have just six healthy defensemen Oskars Bartulis remains out with a suspected severe left shoulder injury while Sean ODonnell returned following a sprained left knee Holmgren said he had no plans to use Zherdevs potential cap savings to bring up a defenseman or make a deal right now.
The NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. Monday. The Flyers would like a veteran defenseman who is going into free agency this summer so as to ease their cap hit next year.
Youre barking up the wrong tree, Holmgren replied when asked whether Zherdevs waiving was tied to creating space to add a d-man. other than the fact Zherdev is on waivers doesnt mean theres a follow-up to this.
Scottie Upshall's hit on Bartulis Tuesday night earned him a two-game suspension. ... Holmgren said Bartulis' injury was "left shoulder instability" and more would be known Thursday. ... Speaking of defensive options: Matt Walker needs minor arthroscopic knee surgery and will be unavailable for at least one month. The Flyers could call up Danny Syvret or Erik Gustafsson. Bartulis was to undergo an MRI on his left shoulder late Wednesday. I dont think its great, Holmgren said about Bartulis availability. Incidentally, though Zherdev had a drivers license, he used a limo service to and from practices and games the entire time he was here because he did not have a car.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org
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