The plan was for Ilya Bryzgalov to have a lengthy NHL career. That’s surely what he assumed would happen when he signed a nine-year, $51 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2011.
Of course, his time in Philadelphia was rocky — and that’s putting it politely. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren called him a “costly mistake” and bought him out just two years into the deal.
He went unsigned over the summer and had to wait until November before one of the worst teams in the league, the Edmonton Oilers, were willing to take a chance on him. He was later traded to the Minnesota Wild.
He hasn’t exactly made the Flyers regret giving up on him, but he has been solid enough this season with a 2.66 GAA and .911 save percentage in 29 games and has been particularly good in Minnesota.
All the same, when the question of his impending status as an unrestricted free agent came up, the 33-year-old goaltender wasn’t even ready to commit to extending his career.
Bryzgalov admitted that thoughts of retirement are relatively new for him, although he added that he hasn’t lost his love of the game.
By buying Bryzgalov out, Philadelphia has committed to giving him roughly $1.6 million annually through 2026-27, so he’s going to get paid for years to come regardless of whether or not he plays. That being said, after his work this season, he’s likely to attract some interest over the summer.