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Signing Zherdev now could cost the Flyers a superior player later

Jul 8, 2010, 11:20 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for zherdev.jpgThe Philadelphia Daily News backs up suspicions that a deal between flighty Russian winger Nikolai Zherdev and the Philadelphia Flyers seems highly likely (and also that such a contract would probably push out Simon Gagne).

The signing of Zherdev would officially mark the end of the Simon Gagne era in Philadelphia after 10 seasons. Last week, Gagne agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Gagne is due $5.25 million next season, his last year under contract with the Flyers.

Zherdev’s signing would put the Flyers over the salary cap. They currently have $578,000 in space with Darroll Powe and Dan Carcillo remaining as restricted free agents. Teams are allowed to be a maximum of 10 percent over the $59.4 million hard cap until the first day of the regular season on Oct. 7.

It appears that Zherdev would like a multi-year contract worth what he would have received last summer had the New York Rangers accepted the terms of his salary arbitration ($4 million).

This is not an uncommon reaction to the Flyers’ off-season moves but … what? Really? Why are the Flyers doing this? It boggles my mind that the team would put their already shaky salary cap situation in peril for a player widely known as a locker room headache whose career high is only 61 points (and who has a -46 career plus/minus).

Yes, it’s true that NHL teams can go about $5.9 million over the cap for portions of the off-season, but let’s not forget that the Flyers will have to face some tough questions next summer. Three forwards who could very well be “core” players will see their contracts expire in July ’11 (Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux and Ville Leino) while potential goner Gagne could be an unrestricted free agent.

Handing the feast-or-famine Zherdev a $4 million per year deal would likely inhibit the Flyers from retaining one of Carter, Giroux and Leino. Would you honestly choose a player who generates adjectives such as “enigmatic” and “inconsistent” instead of more reliable scorers? Sure, that isn’t the direct decision because Philadelphia won’t be confronted with those choices until next year, but have NHL teams learned nothing from the barbaric gutting of the Chicago Blackhawks roster this summer?

Now, Zherdev and the Flyers haven’t officially reached a deal yet, so this could all be a matter of wrinkling some brows for nothing. That being said, if it goes through, an already tight salary cap situation could become a real problem. All that for a player who is only consistent when it comes to being frustrating? That’s pretty baffling, even for a team far off the beaten path like the Flyers.

  1. Michael - Jul 8, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Calling Ville Leino a “core player” based solely on a few good weeks in the playoffs seems a bit of a stretch.

  2. CK3 - Jul 8, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Carter is a fraud. I can’t wait until he’s gone. In fact, force him out now and keep Gagne. Why hasn’t anyone floated that theory?

  3. James - Jul 8, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    The writer of this article clearly doesn’t know who Ville Leino is… Definantly not a core player. As the other poster said, a couple of good weeks in the playoffs do not make you a “more consistent scorer” than someone who has scored 20+ goals 3 times (3 more than Leino), and is YOUNGER.

  4. Fezzlekway - Jul 8, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    Yes, I have indeed explored this option of Carter vs. Gagne…
    Check it out @
    It’s a little long winded to cut and paste here…

  5. James O'Brien - Jul 8, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    So, you’d honestly take Nikolai Zherdev over Ville Leino? OK, then.

  6. ICDogg - Jul 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    It all seems crazy to me. After all this fussing around, are the Flyers a better team?

  7. Bags2 - Jul 8, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    because it makes no sense. Zherdev and and Gagne are both wings, and Carter is a center. Not to mention Carter is a much better two way player, he’s much tougher, and is solid in the dot.

  8. CPar - Jul 8, 2010 at 1:31 PM
    Simon Gagne stated yesterday on RDS that despite rumours has not waived his no trade clause so I don’t know how you guys are all reporting this. Second Zherdev should stay in Russia he’s inconsistent, a premadonna, and since when does Ed Snider sign Russians. Get over yourselves I don’t know why this wholescale team change comes about every summer. Get your facts strait. Third, how is the team leader in scoring three years in a row Jeff Carter a fraud. He didn’t show up in the playoffs cause his toe was still broken. I think Carcillo should get cut cause of the Shelly acquisition we don’t need two of them, and sign Powe. The only reason Gags should go should be in a trade for a big goalie. That’s the end of that.

  9. Spoonman - Jul 8, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    I agree. I’ve been wanting to dump carter for a while. We should have used him in the goalie game.

  10. MattO - Jul 8, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    Don’t dump Carter. Carter gone last year = no playoffs. Had he not broken his feet his post-season would have been fine, probably even excellent, and everyone would love him.
    I’m with the author on this… if this means losing Carter, Giroux, or Leino, it’s definitely NOT worth it.
    Would suck to see Gags go, but this is a business. Still, I think keeping him is better than Zherdev. I think our guys from last year will be in a great mental zone or a long post season run after how this year played out.

  11. Anonymous - Jul 8, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    wrong, carter was on the team for the playoff collapse vs. Pitt last year: 6 games, 1 G, following 46 in the regular season. he’s got talent but shrinks when it matter most. look it up, it’s a fact. he is soft.

  12. Joe - Jul 8, 2010 at 7:07 PM

    The zherdev deal is one year from what espn says so it would have no effect on giroux leino or carter deals for next off season so why not give it a shot gagne is a good two way player but he isnt going to get any better he is on the back end of his career and if zherdev works out resign him if not no big deal if its only for one year

  13. steven - Jul 9, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    keep gagne … get rid of hartnell and coburn

  14. Scott - Jul 9, 2010 at 3:13 AM

    they should move carter for a 1st round pick n 2 prospects. keep gagne, sign zherdev for one year, sign powe with carcillo’s money, let carcillo walk, like the rangers did zherdev, even with OK goaltending, with the d they have now, they need to get deeper with “top 6” forwards.

  15. Mike Green - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    anyone that has watched the flyers the past couple years would say get rid of carter he really hasnt done anything. he had a good couple rookie seasons and thats it. he is not as good as everyone says he is. and for the guy that said about him and the playoffs maybe you should look at what happened we did fine without him. and keep gagne without a doubt. he adds so much to the team. when he came back from injury this season the team played a hell of a lot better. perfect example is the series against boston this playoffs. gagne comes back we win 4 in a row! getting rid of gagne would be a terrible thing for the flyers to do.

  16. daniel - Aug 3, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    There is a reason the new york rangers didn’t resign zherdev. And who the heck is leino?

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