Considering all the talk about the Montreal Canadiens need to upgrade their top-6 forwards. I will try to grade some upcoming UFA's that could potentially fit this profile. Please keep in mind that these are one game grades, and as such are not indicative of these players long-term skill or potential. As I've learned, only through long-term analysis can we get a reasonable and fair view of players' strengths or weaknesses.
It was a tough game for the entire Philadelphia Flyers' roster, as they were dominated by the New York Rangers Sunday afternoon. The final score of 7-0 was quite representative of the game itself. Upcoming unrestricted free agent forwards Ville Leino and Nikolai Zherdev were not exempt from the suffering, as both forwards finished the game with below average grades.
Ville Leino (#22) is a 6'1, 190 lbs forward who can play all 3 forward positions. A highly-touted player coming out of Finland, the Savonlinna native's game rounded into play during the Flyers' run at the cup last year. he had 21 points in 19 games during last-year's playoffs, and has carried that success into the current season. Leino is fifth on the team in points with 42, and has a solid plus-14 rating.
Nikolai Zherdev (#93) scores goals; that's what he does. The 6'2', 203 lbs right-winger has scored 15 goals this season, despite only averaging 12 minutes of ice-time per game. A right-handed shot, Zherdev can play both wings. Although he can struggle on the half-wall in the defensive-zone when playing his off-wing. He has 5 assists to go along with his 15 goals, and is a respectable plus-5.
Both Leino's and Zherdev's grades fell as the game progressed. Leino went from 71 at the end of the first period, to a final grade of 60. Zherdev's grade plummeted through the final two frames. Falling an incredible 24 points to finish with a brutal 29.
Despite the tough loss Leino was still able to demonstrate his strengths. He's a player who's successful when carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Number 22 showed this during the game; successfully carrying the puck into the offensive-zone on 6 occasions. Leino also showed commitment in the defensive-zone, as he blocked 2 shots. Where he seemed to struggle was winning 1-on-1 puck battles in the offensive-zone. He won only 38% of his OZPBs, but won 67% of his neutral-zone puck-battles.
Even more than Leino, Nikolai Zherdev played up to his reputation. He was soft when engaging in puck-battles on the defensive side of centre ice. Number 93 won only 17% of his defensive, and neutral-zone puck-battles, while giving the puck away twice in the neutral zone. He battled more in the offensive-zone; winning 50% of his offensive-zone puck-battles, while successfully skating the puck into the offensive-zone on 1 occasion.
|SKI +||6||SKI +|
|PS THRU||PS THRU|
|OZ PS BL||OZ PS BL|
|POINTS X2||POINTS X2|