The Philadelphia Flyers acquired the rights to goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov Tuesday night, trading AHL prospect Matt Clackson and a 2012 3rd round choice, along with another conditional draft pick to Phoenix.
The Coyotes won’t resign the free agent Clackson, as the Flyers had to throw a currently contracted player in the deal so they would not go over the NHL’s 50 contract limit.
Bryzgalov went 36-20-10 with a 2.48 GAA and a 92.1 save percentage in 2010-11. He also posted 7 shutouts, compared to the Flyers 0 this season. For his career, split between the Ducks and Coyotes, he is 156-116-35, with a career GAA of 2.53. Bryzgalov has 23 career shutouts and a 91.6 save percentage. In 27 career playoff games, he has gone 12-13, winning a Stanley Cup as the Ducks’ backup in 2007. He has three playoff shutouts, all with the Ducks in their improbable 2006 run to the Western Conference Finals. Bryzgalov failed to win a playoff series with Phoenix, losing back to back years against Detroit.
Will Bryzgalov be the answer? The Flyers have to sign him first. No numbers are official, but it seems he is looking for a deal for $5m to $6m. Can the Flyers afford that type of money with their current roster? With a quick estimate at Capgeek, if Bryzgalov signs for $5.5m, and Ian Laperriere is put on LTIR, the team will have about $650,000 to fill three to five roster spots. That won’t happen. So someone will be the odd man out, whether that is Jeff Carter ($5.3m), Matt Carle ($3.4m), Kris Versteeg ($3.1m), another player, or a combination, remains to be seen. It would also mean that free agent Ville Leino would not be resigned. On Sunday, the Columbus Dispatch hinted that the Flyers and Blue Jackets could be trade partners for Columbus’ #8 pick. Could the Flyers trade a high priced player for the pick? Possibly. GM Paul Holmgren has two weeks before the NHL Draft to see what he can do with Bryzgalov before making his next move.
If signed, the Flyers would have three goalies battling for two NHL spots next year. Bryzgalov would surely have the #1 job, while Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton battle for the backup job. Bobrovsky would benefit from being the starter in Adirondack, as compared to playing only 20 games with the Flyers. In addition, Bobrovsky’s cap hit ($1.75m) is slightly larger than Leighton’s ($1.55m), so the team could save some money there.
What happens if the Flyers can’t get a deal done with Bryzgalov? Perhaps they trade his rights to another team, like they did with Dan Hamhuis last year. And what does this mean for the Coyotes? They’ll have to add a goaltender, as Jason Labarbera is their only signed goaltender, and he surely won’t carry the load.