Bryz is headed to Vegas.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who just three years ago was a Vezina nominee, will join the East Coast Hockey League’s Las Vegas Wranglers on a tryout basis, according to the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno.
Bryzgalov, 33, was bought out of his nine-year, $51 million deal with the Flyers in July — with seven years and $23 million left on it — and has had issues finding work ever since. Rumors have tied him to the KHL and SEL and whispers of Pittsburgh showing interest were shot down earlier this week.
As for his new club…
Las Vegas is an unaffiliated ECHL club, last connected to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009-10. The Wranglers are two rungs below the NHL (with the AHL being the intermediary) but have sent a few players to the NHL over the last few years, including Deryk Engelland, Adam Cracknell and Adam Pardy.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Bryzgalov has already passed his physical.
Update (8:36 p.m. ET) Here’s Bryzgalov’s statement, as per the Wranglers:
“[Wrangers head coach and GM] Mike Madill’s passion for the game, his team, and his excitement about training camp were a big part of the reason why I chose to participate in the Wranglers training camp.
“Having missed camp this year, an experience like this is critical for me to be ready for NHL play, and I can’t wait to get on the ice. Everyone’s motivation here is largely driven by an unparalleled passion for the game, and this will offer me a very interesting perspective and be a great opportunity for me to reflect on why I started playing this great game in the first place. It’s going to be something very special, and I expect I will learn as much from this experience as any other I have had in my career.”
“To be clear, I intend to return to the NHL, and to be ready for game action when an NHL opportunity opens up. I intend to work hard while I am here in Las Vegas, and to return the support I have received from my family, the many fans who have reached out to me with words of encouragement, and the Wranglers organization with actions, not words.
“This is a unique opportunity for me to be an example to my own children, to the young fans who have supported me, to my new teammates, and eventually to the NHL teammates who will come to rely on me again,”