The Phoenix Coyotes have dealt goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and his negotiating rights to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2012 third-round pick, Matt Clackson and future considerations. Bryzgalov is considered to be one of two elite goalies – along with Tomas Vokoun – on the free agent market this off-season.
Bryzgalov, soon to be 31 years old, was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season and put together a solid campaign for Phoenix this year. It was reported tonight that his contract demands were too high for the Coyotes’ liking.
So if ‘Bryz’ made $4.25 million last year, and his asking price was “too high” for Phoenix, how much money could he be asking for? Close to $6 million a year? In this era where the market value for goalies is down? Also, if Bryzgalov is asking for something around $6 million a season, will the Flyers be able to sign him? They have three and a half weeks to get a deal done before July 1.
According to CapGeek.com, the Flyers have $58.9 million tied into 18 players next year. No matter how high the salary cap ceiling rises, GM Paul Holmgren will have to unload one or two players to make room for Bryzgalov’s contract. Jeff Carter ($5.27 million cap hit) and Matt Carle ($3.43 million cap hit) do not have no-trade or no-movement clauses and would be prime targets by other teams.
Goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton are also under contract for the Flyers next year. Bobrovsky would turn into one of the top backups in the NHL, while Leighton would likely get stashed in the AHL for a second year in a row.
Bryzgalov had a spectacular season in 2009/10, compiling 42 wins and a 2.29 goals-against average. He did not match those numbers in 2010/11, but was still solid (36 wins, 2.48 GAA). He was a huge reason why the Coyotes made back-to-back playoff appearances; granted, his postseason performances in 2010 and 2011 were dreadful (3-8, 3.77 GAA).
This will be a big loss for Phoenix. They recently re-signed backup Jason LaBarbera to a two-year pact, but is obviously not a starter. It will be interesting to see how GM Don Maloney fills this big void.
It’s been a long time since the Flyers have owned a top-flight netminder. If they can sign Bryzgalov, goaltending will suddenly be strength – not a weakness – in Philadelphia.
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