(Lame title, I know, but you know you like it.)
So Nik Zherdev is officially an Unrestricted Free Agent. And of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs are rumored to be interested in the streaky 24 year-old forward--when are they not rumored to be interested in a specific player? I don't know what the consensus of Leafs Nation is, but this Leafs fan is hoping Brian Burke doesn't touch Zherdev with a ten-foot pole.
Zherdev, who produced 99 goals and 269 points in 365 career games, has the offensive tools to become an elite forward in the National Hockey League. However, due to a lack of commitment and questionable work ethic, he's underwhelmed his observers thus far, stapling himself as 55-60 point player who can consistently tally atleast 20 goals, but is unable to cross the 30-goal barrier.
Defensively, there isn't much to be said about Zherdev, except that he's undependable. So on top of taking too many shifts off, he's incapable of defending his own end. Considering Zherdev is prone to one-on-one situations and stick handling through his opposition, you know that spells a whole lot of turnovers.
I don't know about you, but does it not seem like the cons heavily outweigh the pros here?
I'm not arguing that Zherdev wouldn't implement a dose of offense to a club that is dire need of it, but at what cost? He's not a two-way forward; he's not a leader; he's not a team player; and he has yet to produce at the level he was expected to.
Some may argue that adding atleast one player of his ilk is necessary, as many teams have these sort of players. I say shenanigans. The only reason so many fans are ecstatic about the prospect of adding Zherdev to the roster is because his offensive potential--and really, that is the ONLY upside with him. But seriously, what's the point in getting handcuffed with his contract when the Leafs can wait one season, let their youth compete for ice-time, and then re-assess the situation next summer?
After all, the Leafs have made big strides in bolstering their defensive coverage this off-season, so what's the rush? It's not as if the Leafs have to upgrade in every aspect during a single off-season. The Leafs are rebuilding, and last time I checked such a task involved a little something called patience. Acquiring a player such as Zherdev, in my view, seems counter-productive to Burke's overall plan with the Leafs. Yes, he's a young, scoring forward with loads of potential and who is available, but taking a closer look at the Russian, specifically his attitude, begs the question if he's worth the headache--and the roster spot.
Personally, unless the Leafs find a way to snag Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins, I'd rather see players such as Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson, Nikolai Kulemin, Jiri Tlusty and John Mitchell be given the opportunity to prevail with more responsibility and ice-time. This would allow Burke to determine who his most valuable assets are, thus giving him a better idea of how he wants his top-six to be compromised.
Patience is a virtue.
P.S. I apologize for the lack of posts lately. Not much on the agenda for August, so I plan on writing a whole lot before heading back to College in September.