Flyers talking with Zherdev

Nikolai Zherdev played in Russia last year after spending the 2008-2009 season with the Rangers. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Russian news services indicate the Flyers and Ukrainian free agent forward Nikolai Zherdev have come to an agreement to bring the skilled but aloof scorer back to the NHL.

As of this posting, the two sides have not been able to nail down an agreement.

But the Flyers and Zherdev’s Russian agent, Igor Popov, have been talking and an offer is pending, a league source has told the Daily News. Both sides appear to be close to a deal.

Zherdev, 25, played last season in Russia with the KHL’s Atlant Mystishchi after the New York Rangers let him walk after winning a $4 million salary award in arbitration last summer.

He was reportedly seeking a long-term deal worth the same amount this summer. Boston, Toronto and Buffalo are the other teams that have reportedly offered Zherdev a contract.

At 6-foot-2, Zherdev would fill in nicely in the Flyers’ depth chart at right wing. Over his last two NHL seasons, Zherdev posted 109 points – 49 of them being goals.

Zherdev was the No. 4 overall pick by Columbus in 2003. Few doubt Zherdev’s talent and skill but almost all of his critics question his work ethic and consistency.

After a 54 point season in 2006-06 – his second in the NHL – Zherdev posted just 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points over 71 games and then nearly doubled that total the following season, his last with the Blue Jackets.

The Rangers acquired him on July 2, 2008 with Dan Fritsche for Christian Backman and Fedor Tyutin.

Last season, in the comparatively low-scoring Kontinental Hockey League, Zherdev netted 39 points in 52 games.

The signing of Zherdev would mark the official end of the Simon Gagne era in Philadelphia. Last week, Gagne agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Gagne is due $5.25 million next season, his last year under contract with the Flyers. Zherdev's signing would put the Flyers well over next season's $59.4 million salary cap.

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