2010 NHL Free Agency: Nikolai Zherdev looks to return to the NHL, possibly with Leafs or Sabres

zherdev.jpgUpdate: TSN reports that the Maple Leafs aren’t interested in Zherdev.

After spending a year in the KHL with Mytishchi Atlant, Dmitry Chesnokov reports that former Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev is in serious discussions to return to the NHL. Chesnokov states that the Russian right-handed left winger is in talks with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres at the moment.

Considering the summer time struggles of Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Frolov, I wonder if Zherdev was simply a year ahead of his time. While both players have had more success than Zherdev, they still share his national origin, reputation for being a bit … mercurial and even shoot the same way and skate on the left wing.

Zherdev entered the league as the Blue Jackets’ hopeful second banana to Rick Nash. The skilled but occasionally irksome forward often found himself in Ken Hitchock’s doghouse, a plight you might expect to elicit empathy from Nikita Filatov. He scored 39 points in 52 games in the KHL last season while putting up 58 and 61 in his most recent NHL campaigns during the 08-09 and 07-08 seasons.

While the hope is that his game is maturing a bit, Zherdev could be a nice addition for both the Sabres and Maple Leafs at the right price. He is a three-time 20-goal scorer already in the NHL and at 25 one could argue that he’s still entering his prime.

(Also, to complete the Russian Rumor Trilogy, Chesnokov points out that railed high draft pick Alexander Svitov will not play in the NHL next season.)

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    PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

    –The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

    –Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

    –Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

    –A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

    –“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

    –Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

    Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

    Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

    With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

    It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

    Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

    The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

    Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

    If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

    Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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    NBCSN screen
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    Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

    An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

    After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

    You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

    Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

    Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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    Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

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    Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.