Philadelphia Flyers: Nikolay Zherdev The New "Big E"

RonnybrookCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2010

NEWARK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 28: Nikolai Zherdev #13 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates his second goal of the game at 15:47 of the second period against  the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on September 28, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Did you hear the Big E is in Philadelphia?!

No, not Eric Lindros, silly goose.

I’m talking about the Big Enigma, Nikolai Zherdev!

The Delco Times and Philadelphia Daily News recently featured stories about Zherdev, and the baggage he brings to Philadelphia via stops in Columbus and New York City.

The narrative goes something like this: Nikolai Zherdev has the potential to be a gifted NHL scorer, but no team has figured out how to unlock his 30 to 40 goal potential because he’s lazy, selfish, and kind of an a-hole.

Who gets to put that kind of stink on a player anyway? The Columbus Blue Jackets?

Have you ever taken a look at the Blue Jackets’ rosters between the years 2003-2008? Looks like a goddamn expansion draft to me.

Imagine playing on a team where marquee player acquisitions are Michael Peca and Sergei Federov three to five years past their expiration dates. And yet there was Zherdev, the enigma, flirting with 30 goal seasons in 2005-06 and 2007-08 despite the lack of any offensive depth in Columbus.

Or how about the Rangers, who after coming out on the wrong side Zherdev’s $3.9 million salary arbitration award in 2009, inexplicably found salary cap religion and walked away from their 2008-09 leading scorer over a $750,000 difference between the two sides?

So now it’s the Flyers turn to figure out this Zherdev guy.

Personally, I think the enigma thing is load of shite.

I’m not big on throwing out predictions, but I’ll toss one out there anyway: Nikolai Zherdev will have a career year in Philadelphia this season.

The Flyers are a deeper, more complete team than the Rangers or the Blue Jackets teams Zherdev played for. And for the first time in his career, the success or failure of his team won’t rely heavily on his offensive production.

According to Frank Seravalli’s story in the Daily News, Zherdev is amping up his English language classes in an attempt to assimilate into his new NHL home.

If that guy puts up 40 goals for $2 million bones, I say the Flyers brass should force Zherdev’s linemates to learn Russian.

Anyway, I’m calling it. The enigma crap gets put to bed this season as Nikolai Zherdev has a career year in 2010-11, and subsequently prices himself out of the Flyers salary structure in 2011-12.

Write it down!