When Scott Howson dealt enigmatic winger Nikolai Zherdev along with Dan Fritsche for Christian Backman and Fedor Tyutin, our GM was raked over the coals in hockey circles. When Zherdev jumped to a fast start and led the league in scoring, the general consensus was that we got bent over on the deal. Tyutin's terrible start didn't help matters. Zherdev began a series of uneven play and with the midseason change to John Tortorella, his play did not come back strong. He earned bench splinters in the post season averaging less than 9 minutes a game.
Meanwhile, Tyutin became a strong top four contributor who played well in all three zones.
I think given a chance with a strong head coach, Z could blossom to become a good all around sniper. He'd never be a Selke finalist, but he could be a player in all three zones. As he's getting older, he could be getting wiser, but it all soon may not matter.
The news reports today is that Zherdev is close to signing in the KHL. When Radulov jumped ship last season, I was only waiting to read that Z was going to follow suit. Z has his roots dug deeply in Russia with his family and friends and it always seemed in his time here, that he was far away from home. For his own personal well-being, I hope he makes the right choice. I harbor no ill feelings for Z. Sure his play was more inconsistent than we'd have liked, but I truly think he is one of the most misunderstood players in the league.
The situation obvious and Howson read it correctly. He had to pick up the tab on Backman, but we got a quality defender on an affordable contract. If Tyutin continues to improve, this deal will only look better. I don't think New York made a bad move on Z and I don't think if another NHL team makes an offer for him that it would be a bad deal either. Howson say clearly that we were loaded on the wings and Z was the one that didn't fit into the team plans.
Hours after this deal, Howson signed Kristian Huselius which replicated the production we missed with Z. That was the signing that sold me on the deal. Essentially we "signed" Fedor Tyutin to a sweetheart contract when the rest of the D market dried up.
Irregardless of your opinion of Zherdev, he will have a permanent place in CBJ lore. Here is the PLAY (before the Rick Nash PLAY)
Nikolai Zherdev amazing goal against Blackhawks (via Puuhanakka)