Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bryzgalov Off The Market (For Now)

Peter Budaj won't be the answer and if the hockey gods have any mercy on Avalanche fans, Brian Elliott won't have the chance to be.

The question:

Who the heck is going to be the goaltender for your 2011-12 Colorado Avalanche?

A bunch of names have been thrown out there including Vancouver's Corey Schneider, LA's Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier, and yes, Phoenix's behemoth Ilya Bryzgalov.

It now appears that Bryzgalov won't be the answer either.

Per TSN:
The Phoenix Coyotes have traded the negotiation rights of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for forward Matt Clackson, a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, and future considerations.

The deal gives the Flyers an exclusive window to negotiate a new contract with the 30-year-old Russian before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has made this kind of move before. In June 2007, the Flyers dealt a first round pick to Nashville for the right to exclusively negotiate with Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell, both of whom were set to become free agents on July 1. Both players were subsequently signed.

The cap situation for the Flyers will make signing Bryzgalov tricky. According to CapGeek.com, the Flyers have a little over 400k to spend before they hit the cap. This means that Philadelphia will likely deal one of their highly paid forwards, perhaps Jeff Carter or Kris Versteeg (or both) along with a defenseman (Matt Carle) to make room for Bryzgalov.

Bryzgalov has been very outspoken this offseason (especially regarding the Winnipeg situation) and has made clear that he wants to become one of the highest paid goaltenders in the league.
Ilya Bryzgalov, the unrestricted free-agent goaltender, will be seeking a huge contract that probably will dwarf the $12.75 million he has been paid over the previous three years.
So how does this affect the Avalanche?

Goaltending has to be a top priority for management in the offseason. Bryzgalov might have been the most talented option available, but he wasn't necessarily the best option.

Bryzgalov's regular season numbers speak for themselves. 8th in wins (36), a 2.48 GAA combined with a .921 save percentage. He had seven shutouts, started 68 games, and helped lead the 99-point Coyotes to the playoffs.

But as we, fans of Patrick Roy, know, playoffs are where players really make their money. And Bryz's playoff performance? It was - uh - shaky.

In just four games played, Bryzgalov's GAA blew up to 4.36 and his save percentage became a putrid .879. Many pundits believed that Phoenix was in a prime position to knock off Detroit in the first round. They didn't even come close, and Bryzgalov was one of the reasons why.

Is he worth the six or seven million that he's most likely seeking?

Absolutely not. For a guy who was playing for a contract, Bryzgalov's playoff performance was a joke.

Keep in mind that the Avs are a season away from having to give big time contracts to Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, and Erik Johnson.

Even if Ilya is available on July 1st, I highly doubt that the Avalanche will commit a lot of money and a lot of years to a 31-year-old goalie who has a bit of an attitude problem.

If anything, this move simply means that the Avs no longer must face Bryzgalov (whom they have struggled against in the past) four times a season.

But it also means that the Coyotes will now be looking for a goalie in the same price range as the Avalanche.

An interesting summer it will be.

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