The Philadelphia Flyers made waves by acquiring the rights to New York Islanders blueliner Mark Streit.
While there’s no question that the Flyers could use another skilled offensive defenseman to help fill the void that’s existed since Chris Pronger suffered a concussion, Streit is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in less than a month and he’ll probably demand something in the ballpark of $5 million per season.
Even without Streit, the Flyers have exceeded the 2013-14 salary cap, based on Cap Geek’s projections, so their latest move adds further fuel to the persistent rumors that they will exercise their two compliance buyouts this summer on forward Daniel Briere and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
That would free up a little bit over $12 million in annual cap space.
“Have to believe compliance buyouts are in the works for Bryzgalov and Briere to free up cap space,” TSN’s Bob McKenzie said following the Streit trade.
If they go down that route, it won’t be a shock to either player.
“Definitely. It’s reality,” Briere said in April about the possibility of being brought out.
“To be honest, I don’t care,” Bryzgalov said on the subject. “Really, I don’t care. I have no control on this, so why should I care?”
The only difference is that Briere made it clear that he would like to stay in Philadelphia while Bryzgalov dodged the question at the time.
Meanwhile, Flyers GM Paul Homgren has tried his best to squash these types of rumors in the past.
“I think right now with Ilya and Steve [Mason], we’ve got good goaltending moving forward,” said Holmgren. “Any talk of anything other than that I think is out of bounds.”
Buying out Bryzgalov would bring an end to a shaky, albeit brief, era in Philadelphia. Bryzgalov has produced a string of often bizarre statements and has been inconsistent between the pipes. At the same time, the alternative in Philadelphia, netminder Steve Mason, shouldn’t be regarded as a safe bet after years of struggling in Columbus.
If the Flyers shed Bryzgalov’s salary, then they will likely seek a strong backup that is capable of starting if Mason falters.
Of course, it’s hard to accurately predict what Philadelphia will do because the team has been nothing if not bold. They might sign Streit and then pull the trigger on other trades that will get them under the cap while still allowing them to keep Bryzgalov and/or Briere.
Anything is possible with them.