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Zherdev Returns to the NHL


Photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Recently married Nikolai Zherdev will be returning to the United States from Russia to play in the NHL once again.  The 25-year-old right wing has signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers worth $2 million.

Zherdev spent last season with Atlant Moscow Oblast of the KHL after five seasons in the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers.

He had a breakout year with the Blue Jackets in his sophomore season in 2005-06, scoring 54 points (27 goals, 27 assists).  Following the season, he signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract with the Blue Jackets, but the next season saw his production dip to only 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists).  During the season, he also had disputes with the coaching staff.  After a meeting with General Manager Scott Howson and coach Ken Hitchcock, Zherdev had a clean slate and came out better in the 2007-08 season, scoring 61 points (26 goals, 35 assists).

In July of 2008, Zherdev was traded to the Rangers, where he tied with Scott Gomez for the team lead in points with 58 (23 goals, 35 assists).

After filing for arbitration the following summer, the Rangers let Zherdev go and he spent the next season in the KHL.

He has won a silver medal in the 2002 U-18 World Junior Championships, a gold medal in the 2003 U-20 World Junior Championships and another gold medal in the 2009 World Championships.

The addition of Zherdev gives the Flyers four first-round players from the 2003 NHL Entry Draft: Zherdev (4th overall), Braydon Coburn (8th overall), Jeff Carter (11th overall) and Mike Richards (24th overall).

His signing could also spell the end of Simon Gagne in Philadelphia.

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