Many of the biggest names in today’s NHL were selected in the first round of the 2003 draft.
After Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, and Nathan Horton were picked with the first three overall picks, the Columbus Blue Jackets picked Nikolay Zherdev. Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, and Ryan Suter were the next three players to be picked after Zherdev, as the group of Braydon Coburn, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Brian Boyle, and Corey Perry were also taken in the opening round of the draft 10 years ago.
Zherdev had four respectable campaigns with the Blue Jackets before Columbus dealt him to the New York Rangers in the summer of 2008 in a transaction that saw Zherdev and Dan Fritsche head to Manhattan in exchange for Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman.
After he had 23 goals and 35 assists in 82 games for the Blueshirts during the regular season, Zherdev failed to record a single point for the Rangers in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals. On top of not scoring, Zherdev was also minus-3 in the seven-game series.
For the 2009-2010 season, Zherdev left for Russia’s KHL and joined Atlant Mytishchi. He played with Martin Gerber, Jan Lasak, Denis Bodrov, Jan Bulis, Oleg Kvasha, Eric Landry, and Jiri Novotny.
Zherdev finished third on the team with 39 points, as he potted 13 goals and 26 helpers in 52 contests to help Atlant Mytishchi finish fourth in the KHL’s Western Conference. In a best-of-five series, Zherdev had an assist and was minus-2 in Atlant’s four games before they were eliminated by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
The forward signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2010 for $2 million.
Despite having very little ice time with Philly and only taking part in 56 tilts, Zherdev finished eighth on the team with 16 goals. He also had six helpers and a plus-5 rating. The forward had a few productive contests for the Flyers, as he potted an important goal in the Flyers’ decision against the Pittsburgh Penguins to snap their 12-game winning streak and a two-goal game against the Rangers on December 18.
(go to :41 seconds) Thanks to NHLVideo
Thanks to NHLVideo
Zherdev took part in eight of the Flyers’ 11 games during the 2011 NHL playoffs, appearing in every one except for Games 1 and 2 against the Buffalo Sabres in the first round and Game 4 against the Boston Bruins in the second round.
The former Columbus Blue Jacket’s final rd light in the NHL came in Game 3 of the Flyers’ series against the Sabres, as he put home the game-winner in a 4-2 decision for Philly (go to 1:10).
Thanks to NHLVideo
Zherdev rejoined Atlant Mytishchi for the 2011-2012 campaign, as he became teammates with Alexei Kovalev, Konstantin Rudenko, and Branko Radivojevic.
The forward helped the club reach the 2012 KHL playoffs, as he deposited 16 goals and 24 assists in 53 contests during the regular season. As Atlant Mytishchi beat Severstal Cherepovets in the opening round and lost to SKA Saint Petersburg in the second round, Zherdev had three goals and an assist while taking part in all 12 of the team’s games during the playoff run.
The former Flyer also represented Russia in the 2012 Euro Hockey Tour and the 2012 IIHF World Championship. He had four goals and one assist in nine games to help Russia finish third in the EHT and he produced two goals and four helpers in 10 tilts to help Russia win the 2012 IIHF WC.
This past season was more of the same for Zherdev, as he played for Atlant Mytishchi and represented his home country for the EHT.
Anton Khudobin and Viktor Stalberg played for Atlant during the lockout, while Sandis Ozolinsh and Andreas Engqvist joined the squad. Zherdev led the team in scoring with 37 points, as he potted 13 goals and produced 24 assists in 39 games to help the squad finish eighth in the Western Conference.
However, Zherdev joined Ak Bars Kazan late in the season. He had two goals and four assists in 11 games to help Ak Bars Kazan finish first in the KHL’s Eastern Conference.
Ak Bars Kazan swept Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in the first round and beat Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the second round before losing to Traktor Chelyabinsk in a seven-game ECF series. Zherdev took part in every game of the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals, as he had two goals and six assists.
As for his international play with Russia, Zherdev had 29 PIMs and a plus-2 rating in five games to help his country win the 2013 EHT.
Zherdev will play for Atlant Mytishchi for the 2013-2014 season.