"Nickolay Zherdev" is Russian for "stellar defense". I don't know why they capitalize it, but those Russians are an odd bunch. The Russians defeated the Germans in Leningrad because of the Russian general's "превосходный zherdev" (excellent defense).
Zherdev was eerily similar to Sergei Fedorov in his prime. Lights the lamp consistently and plays one of the greatest defensive games ever witnessed to man. A phenomenal talent. I have no idea why no one has signed him yet.
Typical Zherdev shift: He gets the puck, skates up ice, tries to deke a defender and if that works will get a shot on net. If not, he is stripped of the puck and makes a wide slow turn getting back to his own zone.
For all the talk about his laziness, which he is, IMO his biggest problem is that he does not seem to realize hockey is a team sport. Never, ever utilizes his team mates. Wont make the simple passing play to sustain pressure.
If you dont expect Zherdev to be good defensively, you will like him. Unfortunately, Laviolette's job as coach is to expect good defense out of everyone, so that didnt exactly work out so well.
For me, I knew he was going to be average to below average in the D zone, so ultimately, I was pleased with how Zherdev played. Especially for his cap hit. He wasnt a liability, he just had his habits that I never expected him to break. People seem to confuse these habits as being "lazy". I hate that word. Zherdev is not lazy, he's just been playing a style of game for the last 20 years of his life that nobody should expect him to change at this point.
He is what he is, and if you expect more than he's capable of, you will hate him for it. If you expect him to chip in offensively (when given the opportunity) while providing inconsistent defensive effort, you'll probably enjoy having him.
If you have a team with proper insulation for him, he will be great in a limited role. Give him some decent line mates to work with and let him off the leash and I think he'll be a 25 goal scorer.
Honestly, I see San Jose as one of the perfect destinations for him. Put him on a second line role with any two of Couture, Clowe or Pavelski, and it would make a pretty solid line. He wont be expected to lead the team, but he'll at least be given his fair shake in the top 6 unlike in Philly where he was relegated to duty on the fourth line.
At least, when he was on a line with Carter and Giroux, he looked good and he looked motivated. Then we'd shoot him back down to the fourth line or the press box again