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Zherdev ready to begin anew

New Flyers winger looking forward to resuming his NHL career

Wednesday, 07.14.2010 / 2:21 PM ET / News
By Kevin Kurz  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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Zherdev ready to begin anew
Nikolai Zherdev never really wanted to go back to Russia for a year, after playing five seasons in the National Hockey League. There was one specific positive development from the situation, however.

“I found my wife. So, I missed a season in the NHL, but I’m happy right now,” he said, after recently returning from his honeymoon.

Zherdev, 25, was drafted fourth overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets – the same draft that produced Flyers Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Braydon Coburn, and is regarded as one of the strongest classes in recent NHL history. With 239 points in 365 career NHL games, Zherdev clearly has the tools to produce offensively. His best season came with the Blue Jackets in 2007-08, when he had 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points while appearing in all 82 games.
Nikolai Zherdev's best season came with Columbus in 2007-08, when he tallied 61 points in 82 games. (Getty Images)

He admitted he only went to Russia after the lack of offers from NHL clubs when the Rangers walked away from a salary arbitration ruling last summer. (“I [didn’t] have any benefits to return for one year in Russia. It was just to play hockey,” he said.)

Zherdev seems excited to get back to the NHL after signing a one-year contract with Philadelphia on June 9. He will likely get the chance to play on the wing with one of the Flyers’ top three centers in Richards, Carter or Danny Briere, to give the team a deep offense to go along with one of the best defensive groups in the league.

“I’m very happy to be back in the NHL,” said Zherdev, who had 58 points in 82 games for the Rangers in 2008-09, his last in the NHL. “I had some difficulty last season signing a contract in the NHL, and I made the decision to stay one season in Russia. Basically, my goal is to come to the NHL and be one of the best players and play every night, and show everybody I’m ready and that I’m an NHL player.”

In today’s NHL it’s now imperative that although a player may have some offensive flair, being defensively responsible is also a requirement. Zherdev, who was criticized for his defense in the past, thinks he is a more complete player now than when he last played in North America.

“I’ve changed my style and tried to play more in the defensive zone. I think right now I’m a two-way player,” he said. “Before I was probably more of a forward, more in the attack zone, but right now I think the last couple [of] seasons I’ve played more in the defensive zone, too.”

The conference call on Wednesday morning through a Russian translator also allowed Zherdev to address accusations that his work ethic has been lagging during his brief NHL career. Suffice it to say, he is ready to turn the page and begin a new chapter.

“First of all, I don’t pay much attention to the people who write about me, about bad things or good things,” he said. “Sometimes the media has different opinions about different players. Right now, my goal is to come to Philadelphia and prepare for the long hockey season. I’d like to play hockey right now.

“For me, it will be new. It’s a new team, new teammates, a new coach, new organization and a new city. I still have my tools, and I’d like to show everybody I’m still a good hockey player.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 75 21 53 7 74
C. Giroux 74 22 46 1 68
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
M. Streit 75 9 36 -10 45
B. Schenn 75 14 25 -7 39
S. Couturier 75 13 17 1 30
M. Read 73 7 22 -7 29
M. Del Zotto 57 9 19 -5 28
M. Raffl 60 19 6 6 25
V. Lecavalier 51 7 11 -10 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 15 17 10 .926 2.25
R. Emery 10 10 6 .892 3.15
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