The Nikolay Zherdev experiment is apparently over. The Philadelphia Flyers have placed him on waivers this afternoon.
There's basically no doubt in my mind that Zherdev will be claimed by somebody. Then again, I thought Sheldon Souray would be claimed on re-entry over the weekend, so this sort of thing isn't really set in stone.
Still, there are several teams in the NHL that could use a 15-20 goal scorer, and despite Zherdev's apparent work ethic issues, he's more than valuable to a team that's desperate for scoring. We won't get into the teams that might claim him, but just look at the standings and you can probably pick out several possibilities.
If Zherdev clears waivers for whatever reason, it's unclear exactly what they'd do. They could ship him to Adirondack or they could just leave him in the WFC press box with all the soda and popcorn he can handle. We have to assume that the reason for putting him on waivers is either salary cap or roster-space related, though, so shipping him down would be the only way to clear that up.
If he does go down and comes off the cap, the Flyers will have plenty of cap space to potentially make another deadline deal. It doesn't look like this move has anything to do with the injuries to Sean O`Donnell and Oskars Bartulis, since SOD skated today at practice and was back working with Andrej Meszaros. He could be back by Thursday night's game, apparently.
Then again, with Bartulis out (unsure of how long, still), the Flyers might want some space to grab some defensive help in the next few days before the deadline, and the space they would clear by shedding Zherdev's salary would allow them to do that.
I'm just disappointed that the Flyers couldn't get anything for him. I think we all kind of knew that his days in Flyers orange wouldn't last much longer, but as we said last week, there should be teams interested in trading for Zherdev given his skill and the year he's had despite limited ice time.
If teams weren't interested in trading for him, I think the organization does need to take some responsibility for that. Not that they should have treated Zherdev differently if he really was a trouble-maker, but the public perception of him (and thus, how other teams in the NHL see him) was formed completely by the organization's handling of him.
Still, I'm confused here. Paul Holmgren said that teams weren't interested in trading for him, but he also said the other day that he was "reluctant" to get rid of Zherdev because he wanted the extra body in the playoffs. If that's the case, why place him on waivers? See why we're not quick to believe what the GM has to say?
At the end of it all, it's fine that Zherdev didn't work out here. They took a chance and it failed, for whatever reason. I'll trust Peter Laviolette and Paul Holmgren on that. If Zherdev walks for nothing here though, and I assume that he will, it's tough not to be a little irritated about that.