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.