Why this didn't work out is a question with many answers. What we need to do, and what hasn't been done here yet, is take an in depth look at the important factors of the game. I'm dedicating this one to Geoff as I try to break down the most important stats for Zherdev.
First and foremost, Nick Zherdev was brought in here to score goals. Period. He's not a "character" guy, he's not a "playmaker", he's not a grinder or anything other than a scorer. The one credit that you cannot take away from him in his time as a Flyer is he did put the puck in the net. His 1.57 G/60 was second highest on the team behind Danny Briere's 1.58, and to put it in perspective only 4 Flyer forwards have G/60 over 1. So if he scored like he was supposed to, what went wrong?
Playing Situation: He played against 3rd line competition with 2nd line teammates in his time here. He started in the offensive zone 48% of the time, good for 6th among all qualifying forwards (13) but ended in the zone also at 48% of the time---good for tenth on the team. The flow of play didn't really change when he was on the ice using those metrics. His corsi relative to competition was 10th and relative to teammates was 7th, so the flow of the game was pretty even when he was on the ice... call it a draw on his "situation."
Team stats: Luck played a factor in this category as his team's shooting % was 7.52 with him on the ice (11th) which played a big role in his GF/60 to be so low at 2.68. Just the opposite in his own zone as his goalie save % was .933 when Z was on the ice, resulting in the third best GA/60 at 1.9. All of those numbers point directly to luck... another draw.
Lots have been said about being a "team" and playing for each other and this is where I think that the Flyers brass and Z didn't see eye to eye. First of all, Zherdev's GF/60OFF was 3.28, meaning when Z is not in the game, we score 3.28 per 60. The only guys worse than Z are Powe, Betts, and Shelley. The Flyers play a heavy fore checking, team first, style of play. Zherdev plays a 'gimme the puck, let me show you what I can do' type of game. He scores 58% of the total goals scored when he's on the ice. To put that in perspective, Danny Briere scores only 42% of the teams goals while he's on the ice. So what is the issue? Well, Zherdev has only cracked 11% shooting one other time (his 27 goal season in Columbus) in his carrier and he's shooting at 13.6% right now (regression to the mean). If he's shooting so well, how is it possible that his teammates shoot so poorly when he's out there with them. Here is the key stat: A1/60: .11 (dead last excluding Shelley), A2/60: .22 (3rd last, ahead of Powe and Carcillo). Why do his teammates shoot poorly when he's out there? Strictly luck? I doubt it. He shows no trust in his teammates in his playing style, and therein lies the major problem. He didn't buy into the system, and like I've been saying for the past three years or so, I trust management. I loved when he'd dangle and snipe and score a little bit, but if management says he's gotta go, then he's gotta go.