Winnipeg Jets Roster Analysis: The Zherdev Conundrum

Posted by Drew Mindell in Columns,Hosting the Petard,Roster Analysis,Winnipeg Jets on July 28, 2011 — 16 Comments

As anyone who has ever seen me play hockey, or most any sport for that matter (note: for the purposes of this column, and really for all of society’s benefit, we are not including competitive eating as a “sport”), I have not been blessed with any overwhelming talent.  Playing hockey, I skate with my head down.  Playing baseball/softball, I subscribe to the theory that I like my nose how it currently looks, and if that means giving up a base hit, so be it. Let’s not even speak about basketball as what I play certainly is a bastardized version of the game (“White Jew Can’t Jump”).  Any success I have in my athletic endeavours is certainly about 10 percent talent, 70 percent effort, 20 percent luck/goaltender in the midst of a seizure.

I’ve been thinking of talent and athletes more in the last few days with news that Nikolai Zherdev, he ex of the Blue Jackets, Rangers, and Flyers, is interested in becoming a member of the Winnipeg Jets.  Dripping with talent, the former fourth overall draft pick has yet to harness the talent he has and really maximize his skill set.  Sure, he has had some productive seasons (61 points in 2007-08 with the Blue Jackets), but so much more was expected of him given his lofty draft status and natural talent that most can only dream to possess.

More on Zherdev after the jump.

Throughout the week, as news regarding Zherdev’s (alleged) desire to play in Winnipeg has come to the forefront, the general reaction has been mixed at best, and in many occasions negative towards Zherdev becoming a member of our beloved Jets.  I understand that sentiment from fans, as if there is one thing hockey fans cannot handle, it’s a player not giving maximum effort, especially one with the natural talent that Zherdev possesses.   Even with a modicum of effort, Zherdev should  be able to score 30 plus goals per season.  Watching Zherdev play in 2011-12 will probably (potentially) be as frustrating for Jets fans as watching Evgeny Davydov play was in the early 1990s.

Despite the obvious distaste that Zherdev has left in Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia the question is should the Jets pursue Zherdev?

The answer, which may be to the chagrin of many Winnipeg Jets fans is an unequivocal yes, with the caveat that it needs to be relatively risk free (read: few years).  Looking at the Winnipeg Jets roster, as we have documented many times before, the team is not dripping with an abundance of talent.  Some nice pieces, certainly.  The team has some players who should develop into top NHL players, but for the 2011-12 season, talent among the forward group is not overwhelming.  Should we expect Zherdev to come in, and be an eighty point player while carrying the team?  Of course not.  It would be naïve at this point to expect that, and unfair to Zherdev given the player that he has been thus far in his career.

Thus far in his stint as General Manager of the Winnipeg Jets, Kevin Cheveldayoff has been very prudent and logical in his decision making.  Acquiring Eric Fehr for a small price is a good example.  Same with the Blake Wheeler contract signing and terms.  As we (especially Richard) have said on The Illegal Curve Hockey Show on more than one occasion, there is no such thing as a bad one year contract.  Maybe Zherdev comes to Winnipeg, loves the cold weather because it reminds him of Mother Russia, embraces the city’s Ukrainian & Russian heritage and finally harnesses his immense talent.  Or he performs like he has in his other stints in the NHL, and plays uninspired hockey like most fans would expect.  The point is, that given the team’s current salary cap situation (space galore), the fact their talent level can be described as average, and the fact that they have a void on the right wing to start the season given Fehr’s bum shoulder, the risk in signing Zherdev would be off set by the reward possibilities.  I think a 1 year, $1.75 million dollar contract or a two year, $3.00 million dollar contract would be fiscally responsible with minimal downside.

For more on Zherdev’s interest in the Jets, and other Winnipeg Jets news, tune in to tonight’s Illegal Curve Hockey Show. 7-9 PM on Sports Radio 1290 in Winnipeg and streamed live on www.illegalcurve.com.  

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.bonnar Tim Bonnar

    I 100% agree. If he is available and willing to come in for cheap, I am all for it. He isn’t going to get too many more chances in the NHL and if he is dedicated to turning his career around, he could be a steal. 

    He may never get there, but is a players with 30 goal and point per game potential in the right situation. Those guys aren’t available very often and especially not for the kind of contract he is expected to draw. 

    If he is willing, give him a shot. Throw him to the right of Burm and we would surely be in for some excitement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=645180500 Gavin Pell

    Sign him up! We need a bit of sizzle on forward and we’d get that on most nights from Zherdev.

  • http://twitter.com/justgotupndjava swervinmervin

    He is definitely an interesting character, with some skill. I agree with the analysis here by IC!  BUT, he has to earn his ice time like everyone else on the team, and he has to do what the coaches are asking him to do.  He is a quotable cat (in recent interviews). Would he, could he, with a Jet? Worth taking a shot, and seeing what he can do!

  • http://twitter.com/ICdave ICdave

    Blew my mind when you used the Davydov parallel.  Nice job drew.

  • Anonymous

    Davydov…..my body shudders just thinking back…I think the potential risk is well offset by the potential reward.  Pull the trigger on this one, Chevy!

  • http://twitter.com/lukemiguez Luke Miguez

    I think he’s probably more likely to sign for what the Flyers signed him at 1 year 2M.  Regardless, that’s still a very cheap price considering what Zherdev could potentially bring to the Jets’ offence. 

  • Anonymous

    Give Zherdev a one year deal. use the time that Fehr is injured as a tryout period. if the guy plays uninspired hockey and is hated by the MTS faithful then show him the door; if he plays decent hockey and puts up good PP numbers then keep him around.

  • Anonymous

    Give Zherdev a one year deal. use the time that Fehr is injured as a tryout period. if the guy plays uninspired hockey and is hated by the MTS faithful then show him the door; if he plays decent hockey and puts up good PP numbers then keep him around.

  • http://twitter.com/JolonCraw Jolon Craw

    Would definitely be interested in how this pans out. If you have read Zherdev’s recent interview out of a Russian publication he seems to like jumping around from team to team. Chevy should try to ground him a bit (at least 2 years) and just pack it with bonus incentives, lets face it, money talks in his case. Question after that will be, do they give him the second line ice time he seems to want?

  • Anonymous

    TN has made a point of hiring people with good character & work ethic & trying to build a team with those assets. Signing Zherdev would be the complete opposite of that.
    He was supposed to be trying to prove he belongs in the NHL in what most saw as his last chance when he signed in Philly. The lack of offers by 30 GMs says he really didn’t impress anyone.
    I hoped he’d do well as he could help a team if he used his talent but most times last year I was relieved to see him as a healthy scratch.
    We’ve got a young team & having a player that only puts forth effort when he’s in the mood is not someone you want in the dressing room.

  • Anonymous

    TN has made a point of hiring people with good character & work ethic & trying to build a team with those assets. Signing Zherdev would be the complete opposite of that.
    He was supposed to be trying to prove he belongs in the NHL in what most saw as his last chance when he signed in Philly. The lack of offers by 30 GMs says he really didn’t impress anyone.
    I hoped he’d do well as he could help a team if he used his talent but most times last year I was relieved to see him as a healthy scratch.
    We’ve got a young team & having a player that only puts forth effort when he’s in the mood is not someone you want in the dressing room.

  • Anonymous

    TN has made a point of hiring people with good character & work ethic & trying to build a team with those assets. Signing Zherdev would be the complete opposite of that.
    He was supposed to be trying to prove he belongs in the NHL in what most saw as his last chance when he signed in Philly. The lack of offers by 30 GMs says he really didn’t impress anyone.
    I hoped he’d do well as he could help a team if he used his talent but most times last year I was relieved to see him as a healthy scratch.
    We’ve got a young team & having a player that only puts forth effort when he’s in the mood is not someone you want in the dressing room.

  • Anonymous

    TN has made a point of hiring people with good character & work ethic & trying to build a team with those assets. Signing Zherdev would be the complete opposite of that.
    He was supposed to be trying to prove he belongs in the NHL in what most saw as his last chance when he signed in Philly. The lack of offers by 30 GMs says he really didn’t impress anyone.
    I hoped he’d do well as he could help a team if he used his talent but most times last year I was relieved to see him as a healthy scratch.
    We’ve got a young team & having a player that only puts forth effort when he’s in the mood is not someone you want in the dressing room.

  • Anonymous

    TN has made a point of hiring people with good character & work ethic & trying to build a team with those assets. Signing Zherdev would be the complete opposite of that.
    He was supposed to be trying to prove he belongs in the NHL in what most saw as his last chance when he signed in Philly. The lack of offers by 30 GMs says he really didn’t impress anyone.
    I hoped he’d do well as he could help a team if he used his talent but most times last year I was relieved to see him as a healthy scratch.
    We’ve got a young team & having a player that only puts forth effort when he’s in the mood is not someone you want in the dressing room.

  • Anonymous

    TN has made a point of hiring people with good character & work ethic & trying to build a team with those assets. Signing Zherdev would be the complete opposite of that.
    He was supposed to be trying to prove he belongs in the NHL in what most saw as his last chance when he signed in Philly. The lack of offers by 30 GMs says he really didn’t impress anyone.
    I hoped he’d do well as he could help a team if he used his talent but most times last year I was relieved to see him as a healthy scratch.
    We’ve got a young team & having a player that only puts forth effort when he’s in the mood is not someone you want in the dressing room.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.bonnar Tim Bonnar

    I agree. He doesn’t seem like a TNSE kind of guy, but if you grab him on a one year deal for low $ you can always send him packing if he doesn’t fit. Sending that message could be a benefit as well.