Philadelphia Flyers: Nikolay Zherdev Is Getting Played Big Time

Dominic PerilliContributor IIIFebruary 21, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 05: Nikolay Zherdev #93 of the Dallas Stars skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 5, 2011 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Stars 3-1.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Disclaimer: I hate Nikolay Zherdev.

Now that you’ve peeled your eyelids back to make sure you read that right, I just want to say a few words on the supposed permanent benching of Z by the Flyers coaching staff.

If you haven’t already noticed, the Flyers aren’t too thrilled with the way Zherdev is handling practices:

“I don’t know. I think Nikolay, he’s struggled a little bit with being in and out of the lineup and perhaps his work ethic has dropped in practice. But he needs to tough it out here and work harder if he wants to get back in the lineup.”—GM Paul Holmgren

Thanks to Steve Whyno at Philly Sports Daily for the quote.

Throughout the latter part of this season, it was evident that Zherdev was trade bait. Despite scoring 15 goals, he was a healthy scratch more times than I can count.

Earlier today, Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog tweeted:

“I just learned that there are at least a half dozen teams interested in Nik Zherdev. #Flyers”

Chesnokov is reputable enough to take this claim seriously. I believe him. Why wouldn’t any team want Zherdev? He’s a solid offensive player who has some of the best moves in the NHL. BUT—he absolutely sucks defensively and is careless with the puck in his own zone. That’s a big no-no.

Though he’s sometimes a pain in the a**, I’d still take a chance on him. Any player who is almost always healthy scratched but still has 15 goals is worth a shot in my book.

The Flyers aren’t treating him fairly—and this is coming from a guy who wrote an article titled, “Nikolay Zherdev Will Kill the Philadelphia Flyers in the Playoffs.”

He deserves more respect.

Zherdev deserves to be given another shot. I know Kris Versteeg is in town and has Z’s spot, but damn, give the guy a chance. If not, trade his a**. I know I wouldn’t want to ride the pine pony while some 40-year-old dude gripped ice time from me.

That’s my rant—enjoy the rest of your evening.