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Flyers work towards a deal with Bryzgalov this week, must wait to make corresponding moves

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After trading for his rights ten days ago, this week was when the Flyers planned to give Ilya  Bryzgalov their best sales pitch. They flew him from his home in Russia to JFK Airport aboard Ed Snider’s private jet. They talked dollars, they talked years, they showed him the city, and gave him an idea of what to expect if he were to become the newest member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Now that Bryzgalov has experienced a few days of brotherly love, what do we know that we didn’t know before he arrived from Russia.

Explicitly, nothing—which is exactly how the Flyers brass and Bryzgalov’s agent want it. Here is Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren’s official statement:

“We have spoken with Ilya and his agent Ritch Winter about many different scenarios. As for now, we both know each other’s position and have agreed to speak again next week.”

For better or worse, Holmgren’s statement is the only comment that’s been released for public consumption. Fans who want Bryzgalov to wear the creamsicle orange and black can read into the comment that they made progress and working towards a contract as early as next week. Pessimists (or opponents who want Bryzgalov) can read the prepared statement as something like, “we know each other’s position and we’re not close enough to continue negotiating at this time.” That’s why these public comments can cause so much debate. The beauty of subjectivity.

Adding another twist to the plot is the Flyers current salary cap situation. Even if they had reached an agreement with Bryzgalov, they can’t sign the former Coyotes netminder quite yet. Though it’s the offseason, Bryzgalov would put the team too far over the cap. They’d need to make a corresponding move (or two) that sheds salary before they could bring Bryzgalov’s contract into the fold. Tim Panaccio from CSN Philly breaks it down:

“Ideally, Holmgren would like to have a deal in place before he goes to next weekend’s NHL Draft in Minnesota so he can move players for draft picks (the Flyers don’t have a first- or second-round pick).

Here’s the rub: it’s entirely possible that the Flyers already have the framework for a deal with Bryzgalov, but it’s unfinished. Even if the deal got done this weekend, the Flyers can’t announce it until June 30.

Why? Because this is where the tagging issue comes in under the CBA. The new salary cap is slated to be announced on June 30. At present, the Flyers have less than $450,000 in cap space for next season under the current cap ceiling of $59.4 million.”

The point about making a deal before the NHL Draft next weekend is a valid one. If the Flyers are going to make multiple moves to clear up salary space for Bryzgalov, obviously they won’t want to take much salary back in each trade. Instead of roster-ready players, they’d like be looking for high-end prospects and draft picks. Since the Flyers won’t pick until the 83rd pick in the draft (Dan Hamhuis trade), Holmgren would love to get a few picks in first couple of rounds.

For better or worse, the Flyers can’t do anything until they internally figure out the Bryzgalov’s deal. Once they have an idea of Bryzgalov’s contract number (or if they’ll sign him at all), then they’ll be able to start clearing out space for the goaltender. Unfortunately, there’s no point to clearing out cap space with guys like Jeff Carter or Scott Hartnell if they can’t guarantee that Bryzgalov will sign on the dotted line. But if/when they know Bryzgalov will be a Flyer, it’ll be interesting to see which players the team chooses to sell off and what assets they can acquire in return.

For now, first thing’s first.

Oilers recall D-man Oesterle from AHL Condors

EDMONTON, AB - FEBRUARY 23:  Jordan Oesterle #82 of the Edmonton Oilers warms up against the Ottawa Senators on February 23, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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The Edmonton Oilers made a move Sunday, recalling defenseman Jordan Oesterle from the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL.

In 18 games with the Condors this season, the 24-year-old Oesterle has three goals and 11 points.

The decision comes one day after Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson missed Saturday’s contest against the rival Calgary Flames because of a lower-body injury.

While he isn’t a flashy player, Larsson seems to have made a positive impression on the Oilers coaching staff during his first season in Edmonton following last summer’s blockbuster trade involving scoring winger Taylor Hall.

No surprise this development is leading to questions about the health of Larsson, with the Oilers set to begin the second half of a six-game home stand and sitting second in the Pacific Division standings.

Video: Reaves and Boll drop the gloves in heavyweight bout

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Heavyweight fighters Jared Boll and Ryan Reaves dropped the gloves during the second period of Sunday’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.

Those were some thunderous right hands thrown there, both combatants landing their fair share of punches before officials finally intervened.

The Wild sit all alone in top spot of the Central Division

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The Minnesota Wild bested the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, and now sit in sole possession of first place in the Central Division.

Playing the second half of a back-to-back situation that involved travel from Dallas, where Minnesota won Saturday, the Wild fell behind Chicago courtesy two goals from Patrick Kane. Sure, the first goal on Devan Dubnyk was fluttered off the stick of Kane and under the arm of the Minnesota goalie.

But Dubnyk played the remainder of this pivotal game the way Wild fans have become accustomed to since he was acquired. He made 33 saves and was busiest in the second period. Outside of Kane’s second goal, Dubnyk was solid in the middle period and didn’t give up anything the rest of the way. The Wild came back for a 3-2 win. On the road. In hostile territory.

Minnesota, not far removed from a franchise-best 12-game winning streak, now sits at 61 points in 42 games, two points ahead of the Blackhawks and with four fewer games played.

Jason Pominville scored the winner early in the third period.

There are many reasons for the Wild’s success through the first half under coach Bruce Boudreau. Dubnyk’s play has been Vezina caliber. He has a .940 save percentage and a 1.77 goals-against average. Minnesota is second in the league when it comes to the lowest number of goals-against per game and only Washington is better in that category.

The Wild have been scoring plenty, too, fourth in the league with 3.19 goals-for per game, with contributions throughout their lineup.

Free agent signings can always be a risk — an expensive risk — but Eric Staal has rewarded the Wild by producing at just under a point per game rate. He could have his most productive season in several years — at the age of 32 and approaching 1,000 regular season games played.

They won’t have long to enjoy their view from the top.

The Wild host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday to begin a four-game home stand.

More bad news for Bolts: Callahan out four weeks with lower-body injury

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Four points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and about to begin a six-game road trip, the Tampa Bay Lightning face a tough task trying to climb the Eastern Conference standings.

There was more bad news for the Bolts on Sunday.

Forward Ryan Callahan, who hasn’t played since Jan. 7, will miss approximately four weeks because of a lower-body injury, the club announced.

Callahan made his season debut at the end of October. The start to his season was delayed due to the recovery from hip surgery he underwent to fix an issue from last season. Based on a report from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday, Callahan is once again dealing with a hip injury, although the club didn’t elaborate, announcing it as a lower-body injury.

In 18 games this season, Callahan has two goals and four points.

The Bolts, Stanley Cup contenders that have gone deep into the post-season in each of the last two campaigns, are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Right now, Toronto, Ottawa and Florida all sit ahead of the Lightning in the battle for third in the Atlantic. Now into the second half of the season, they will have to quickly get out of this funk in order to close in the post-season race.

“The results are all that matters,” Brian Boyle told the Tampa Bay Times. “We need to change our attitude a little bit, kind of find our mojo, carry ourselves with a little bit more confidence. We can score quick goals. We can come from behind, jump out to leads and bury teams. We’ve done that in the past with this group.”

The Bolts begin this six-game road trip Monday against the L.A. Kings.