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Nikolay Zherdev Signs Contract With KHL Team After Failed NHL Return

Nikolay Zherdev will play in the KHL again next season, one year after the former first round pick made a failed attempt to return to the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers.

ATLANTA GA - JANUARY 14:  Nikolay Zherdev #93 of the Philadelphia Flyers falls down behind the net against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on January 14 2011 in Atlanta Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA GA - JANUARY 14: Nikolay Zherdev #93 of the Philadelphia Flyers falls down behind the net against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on January 14 2011 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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We can now safely say that Nikolay Zherdev's attempt at a return to the National Hockey League was a failed one. After just one season with the Philadelphia Flyers, the team opted not to re-sign him to a contract, and after lukewarm (at best) interest from the rest of the 29 clubs in North America, Zherdev is headed back to Russia.

Slava Malamud of the Russian publication Sports Express reported on Wednesday morning that Zherdev has signed a contract with Atlant Mytischi of the KHL. There had been rumors that the Winnipeg Jets were interested in the Ukrainian winger's services, but those obviously didn't work out. 

Zherdev's foray into the NHL one ripe with controversy in Philadelphia. He never seemed to be able to get under the good graces of head coach Peter Laviolette despite performing quite admirably in a limited role with the team. Zherdev spoke out against his former coach and Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren in an interview with Sport Express in July. As translated by SB Nation's Broad Street Hockey:

Zherdev is still puzzled about what he could have done better.

"It's a mystery to me. I think that for those five to seven minutes I got to play in a game, I gave it my all and did the best I could. Especially when you consider I once sat six weeks in the pressbox between the games."

Even Jody Shelley got ice time over Zherdev, which surprised many.

"It didn't hurt me. It's a shame, of course. I believed I could play more and help the team, but I was just in the doghouse. It was what it was."

The Flyers experience clearly hurt Zherdev more than it helped him, despite the fact that he said it didn't hurt him. Now, he's back in the KHL despite expressing a desire to play in the NHL, and it's quite possible that he doesn't make the trip back across the Atlantic to play hockey again.