Ilya Bryzgalov meets and greets Philly media, has high hopes for Flyers this season

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After making the first big splash of the summer acquiring the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov and then later signing him to a nine-year, $51 million deal, the Philadelphia Flyers finally had their day in front of the media to introduce Bryzgalov to an eager audience.

Bryzgalov spoke with reporters today after showing off his new #30 sweater as well as his new Philadelphia-centric goalie mask and talked about how he hopes to be the guy to help the Flyers come away big winners this season and in the future.

Jay Greenberg of CSNPhilly.com got the low down on what was up with Bryzgalov as both he and Paul Holmgren spoke about what they’re looking to do to try and bring a Stanley Cup to Philadelphia. One thing Bryzgalov isn’t going to do is to put the pressure on himself.

“I never put the pressure on myself,” he said. “I know my job and I know what I have to do.

“Sorry guys, it’s from you [the media], you put the pressure on us and create the pressure around the team, but it depends how you can handle this.

“I think I can handle it. I know what I have to do. I know when I play bad and what I have to do to fix it.”

Good thing Bryzgalov says he knows how to fix it as he’ll have nearly 20,000 wannabe coaches telling him how to do it on a nightly basis at Wells Fargo Center should he struggle with things. As for playing for the Flyers, Bryzgalov knows that winning is expected in Philly and he knows he’ll have a team in front of him that knows how to do it for the most part.

“I have been in the league like seven or eight years and every year I see that team always had good players in the roster and they always played in the playoffs except one year,” said Bryzgalov. “Two years ago the team reached the final.

“It’s a team with a rich history. The team always puts in front of them the highest goal, to win the Stanley Cup.”

What Bryzgalov will have to do is to make life easier on the Flyers defense and while Holmgren said that Chris Pronger is looking like he’ll be ready to go by the start of the season, the rest of the Flyers defensive unit would love having a goalie behind them that can take care of them when they make mistakes. Older players like Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, and Andreas Lilja will enjoy not having to sweat things out too badly while younger veterans like Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and Andrej Meszaros balance out the rest. It’s not as if the Flyers are hurting for talent there, but in goal they needed stability and that’s just what Bryzgalov should provide them.

Some negative fans will point towards what Bryzgalov did in last year’s playoffs against Detroit and say that’s a sign of things to come for the Flyers but Bryzgalov had to virtually carry the Coyotes into the playoffs by himself playing almost every game from late January until the end of the season. With Sergei Bobrovsky there to back him up in Philly, coach Peter Laviolette won’t likely want nor need to ride Bryzgalov as hard as Dave Tippett had to in Phoenix last year. It’s a bit of a wealth of riches for the Flyers which only leads their fans to think big about the upcoming season.

Losing Neal to Vegas was a ‘pretty big price to pay’ for Predators

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The Vegas Golden Knights named their team on Wednesday, and it was no surprise that James Neal was among their selections in the expansion draft.

Why not? Since entering the league in 2008, Neal has scored at least 20 goals in each of his nine seasons, hitting the 40-goal mark in 2011-12 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But after coming up two wins shy of a Stanley Cup this spring, Neal was left unprotected by the Predators.

Predators general manager David Poile had reportedly been in talks with Vegas GM George McPhee, but a deal couldn’t be achieved.

“With how well we played in the playoffs, I’d certainly like to bring everybody back, but the prices [to make a deal with Vegas] were very high,” Poile told the Predators website.

“[McPhee] was looking for younger players or high draft picks, and at the end of the day, I just felt that we had to do what the Expansion Draft was set out to do and that was to lose a player. In this case, we lost James Neal and that’s a pretty big price to pay.”

Neal has one more year left on his six-year contract that has an annual cap hit of $5 million, before he’s a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.

Nashville has about $22.7 million in cap space, per CapFriendly, but five pending restricted free agents — Austin Watson, Frederick Gaudreau, Pontus Aberg and most notably Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson — in need of contracts. In Arvidsson’s case, he’s due for a significant raise from the $640,000 he made in NHL salary last season, in which he scored 31 goals and 61 points.

“James had a much bigger contract and he only had one year left before he was an unrestricted free agent. We didn’t have any negotiations, but there was no guarantees that we would be able to keep him. It really was a business decision. It was as simple as that,” Poile the Tennessean.

Caps re-sign Christian Djoos, who could get his NHL shot next season

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The Washington Capitals have re-signed defenseman Christian Djoos to a two-year, $1.3 million contract.

It’s a two-way deal in 2017-18, and a one-way deal the following season.

Djoos, 22, is expected to push for an NHL spot next season, along with Madison Bowey and possibly Tyler Lewington.

That’s because Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk, both unrestricted free agents, aren’t expected to re-sign with Washington.

On top of that, the Caps lost d-man Nate Schmidt in yesterday’s expansion draft.

Djoos, a seventh-round pick in 2012, had 13 goals and 45 assists in 66 games for AHL Hershey this past season.

It was his second full season in the AHL.

Bettman says NHL will call more slashes next season

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Commissioner Gary Bettman says the NHL will look to enforce slashing penalties more next season.

Following the league’s board of governors meeting, Bettman said pointless slashes to players’ hands will be called more. Ottawa’s Marc Methot and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were among the players to miss time last season with hand injuries from slashes.

Related PHT coverage:

Gaudreau (finger) out six weeks, Treliving says Staal slash the culprit

— Flames made ‘mountain out of a molehill’ over Gaudreau slash

— Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby slash

— Melnyk blasts ‘whiner’ Crosby, who won’t face hearing for Methot slash

Report: Vegas sends Trevor van Riemsdyk to Hurricanes

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Here. We. Go.

According to Frank Seravalli of TSN, the Vegas Golden Knights have sent defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Van Riemsdyk was among 15 defensemen taken by the Golden Knights in Wednesday’s expansion draft, however, general manager George McPhee made a point of saying that, as a result of having this sudden surplus at the position, he was going to have to move some of those blue liners.

McPhee has been busy over the past few days, making deals with a number of teams ahead making his expansion selections, stockpiling draft picks, including three in the top 15 of the first round.

More to come.