Ilya Bryzgalov

After clearing house, Flyers sign Ilya Bryzgalov to nine-year, $51 million contract

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After the Flyers and GM Paul Holmgren stunned the NHL world this afternoon making two blockbuster trades sending Jeff Carter to Columbus and Mike Richards to Los Angeles and clearing out more than $10 million in salary cap space, the Flyers had other business to tend to.

With that new found salary cap space, the Flyers took care of business with goalie Ilya Bryzgalov signing him to a nine-year, $51 million deal that will give the Flyers the franchise goalie they’ve been hoping to find for the last 20 years. With that kind of deal, Bryzgalov is set to play in Philly until he’s 40 years-old.

With a salary cap hit of $5.67 million over that time, the Flyers had better hope that he makes it all more than worthwhile in the end. With most of the money being paid out over the first seven years of the deal ($48 million) it makes the deal more interesting over the first seven years. With Bryzgalov’s money on the cap, the Flyers are at around $57 million against the cap for next year with a host of restricted free agents to sign like Ville Leino, Andreas Nodl, and Dan Carcillo and with the cap set at $64.3 million, that doesn’t leave them much room to do it.

What the Flyers will get out of Bryzgalov is something they haven’t had since Ron Hextall called the goal his home in the mid-80s: A top flight starting goalie. Since Hextall’s days a steady stream of hopeful failures have called the Flyers net their home. While youngster Sergei Bobrovsky gave the Flyers hope that he could be that guy this season, the Flyers obviously felt differently and opted trade for Bryzgalov’s rights and then rearrange the roster to get him signed on before he was due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Bryzgalov carried the Phoenix Coyotes to the playoffs the last two seasons including starting the bulk of their games in the second half of the season while winding up with 68 games played this season. Bryzgalov has played more than 60 games the last four seasons with Phoenix and Anaheim including 69 games last season. That’s a heavy workload and Bryzgalov running out of gas in the playoffs this past season showed that perhaps he’ll benefit from having a steady backup like Bobrovsky or Michael Leighton this year.

One thing is for sure, seeing how Bryzgalov handles the media and fan crush in Philadelphia will make for must-see television and reading. Should the Flyers likely end up in the Winter Classic, seeing him on HBO’s 24/7 will help make him into more of a star as his personality can shine. At least we’re thinking he won’t be too combative with the local press anyhow. Either way, he’s got nine years to get used to it or not. If he brings Philadelphia a Stanley Cup, he’ll be the king of the city.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.