The Philadelphia Flyers recently signed Russian forward Nikolai Zherdev from Atlant of the KHL, less than one year after the New York Rangers walked out of his arbitration award. Z signed for a fair 2 million dollar salary which was roughly half of what he deemed his NHL price.
This right winger has talent and shows it on the ice, sometimes. Still at 25-years-old he scored over 20 goals three times– which includes missing an entire season. In addition, in his past two NHL seasons he never missed a game so injuries are not a problem.
One thing Zherdev lacked throughout his career was consistency but the main reason may have been his supporting cast. He played in Columbus with very little talent outside of Rick Nash and then with a New York Rangers team based on speed and defensive responsibility, not talent and passing plays.
He plays a dangling, playmaking type game which actually translates to production should he have space and the puck often. In New York he played his best hockey with two physical forwards in Brandon Dubinsky and Aaron Voros and the Flyers certainly do not lack those assets.
With no pressure and the right players, he should pot at least 25 goals and 30 assists. A modest projection has him at around 55-60 points with top six minutes. If Zherdev sees time with Mike Richards he could hit his ceiling as a 70 point player.
Relying on a player like Zherdev can be infuriating as he never quite put together all his tools. He displays the ability to at least finish his checks but for the most part shies away from physicality. Lucky for fantasy owners his 20+ goals will always make him a fringe option on the right side.