One of the KHL’s biggest clubs is making a massive push for NHL talent during the lockout.
CSKA Moscow — who already paid large to acquire the services of Nashville’s Alexander Radulov — are reportedly bringing aboard Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk and Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Datsyuk played for one of Moscow’s other famous teams, HC Dynamo, during the last work stoppage, alongside a talented 18-year-old by the name of Alexander Ovechkin.
As reported earlier, Ovechkin has agreed to re-join Dynamo during the lockout, meaning he and Datsyuk will be prominent fixtures when the next Capital City Derby takes place.
Bryzgalov didn’t return to Russia during the last lockout, opting to play with AHL Cincinnati, but is on record saying he’d go to the KHL in the event of a work stoppage this season.
The signings, as reported by SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov and Sports-Express’ Slava Malamud, would make an already formidable CSKA lineup all the more powerful.
The team is led by ex-NHLers Radulov, Denis Arkhipov, Vladimir Zharkov, Oleg Kvasha and Sergei Shirokov and is reportedly in talks with New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov.
Volchenkov is a graduate of the CSKA hockey school and played one season with the senior team before joining the Ottawa Senators in 2002-03.
Earlier this summer, Ilya Bryzgalov seemed pretty confident that he’d play in the KHL if there was a lockout.
On second thought, he told CSNPhilly.com’s Lisa Hillary that it might not be such a sure thing.
“You know, it’s a tough decision,” Bryzgalov said. “Maybe we’ll return to Russia and find a school for the kids, I don’t know. Maybe we stay here. It’s a family decision. We’ve got to sit together and decide what we’re going to do.”
Breezy gives the impression that he won’t really make that call until the dreaded date of Sept. 15.
Sarah Baicker explains why it could be such a “tough family decision.”
Bryzgalov’s two children returned to school Wednesday morning: son Vladislav started first grade and daughter Valery entered third grade. Certainly, it would be less than ideal for the family to pick up and move to Russia in the middle of the two kids’ school years.
What will Bryzgalov do if he isn’t playing hockey?
Bryzgalov said he has “plenty of things to do,” including “having fun.”
(Hopefully while practicing tiger safety.)
The last time Ilya Bryzgalov played in Russia, he was a 20-year-old suiting up for Lada Togliatti of the Super League.
Twelve years later, he might be going back.
Bryzgalov, now 32, told SovSport that if there’s a NHL work stoppage this fall, he’ll take his talents to the KHL.
From Puck Daddy:
SovSport: If there is a lockout, would all players go to Russia?
Bryzgalov: I will. But I wouldn’t talk for everyone. Some players like Switzerland, Germany… I cannot make any decisions about the KHL myself until September 15. The lockout won’t be announced until that day. So I have a contract with Philadelphia.
It’s unclear which Russian team Bryzgalov would consider playing with. His former club, Togliatti, has since been relegated to the second division (VHL, or Russian Major League) and during the last lockout, he played with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Cincinnati.
The Philadelphia Flyers got a decent haul of draft picks when they traded Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus. Still, it did leave them without a clear understudy for Ilya Bryzgalov and while there will certainly be appealing candidates on the free agent market, Philadelphia is somewhat limited by its poor cap situation.
They need someone relatively cheap and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren apparently already has someone in mind.
“We talked about Michael Leighton, who is still really our guy,” Holmgren said, according to Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer. “Ilya plays a lot of games and we’re counting on him playing a lot of games next year. We’ll do our work and come up with a good guy.”
Leighton did have one good run with the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2009-10, which convinced them to sign him to a two-year contract worth $3.1 million. Over the course of that deal, he spent almost all of his time in the minors and ended up playing in just one NHL game. Seravalli claims that Leighton “made no friends inside the organization.”
Leighton is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and is likely to take a significant pay cut.
It’s worth noting that he did put up good numbers in the AHL, so maybe he’s still capable of being a decent backup under a goaltender that’s capable of making 65-plus starts. That being said, Leighton sounds more like a fallback option that the Flyers should only consider for the number two gig if things don’t go their way in the first week of July.
We’ve seen past instances of Flyers forward Claude Giroux showing public support for his embattled goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov.
On Tuesday, he took it to the next level.
Giroux joined Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic to discuss a variety of subjects — the EA NHL 13 cover vote, his wrist injury, if he’s watching the Stanley Cup finals — with his most intriguing comments came on the subject of Bryz.
On the team getting frustrated with Ilya Bryzgalov’s act during the regular season:
GIROUX: If you don’t know what to expect coming into Philly, it’s not like in Phoenix — they don’t have a lot of media and stuff. It’s Philly, everybody’s a big Flyers fan and it’s great.
He didn’t know how it would be, but at the end of the season, like you said, he kind of adapted himself and he was good with the fans and he was playing his best hockey at the end, too.
Obviously next year he’s gonna know what to expect and if I had to predict anything he’s gonna be the best goalie in the league next year — I’m pretty sure that’s what’s gonna happen.”
As mentioned above, this isn’t the first time Giroux has gone this route. Prior to Game 5 of the Pittsburgh series, he told reporters Bryzgalov was “going to be great tonight” and Bryzgalov responded by stopping 50 of the 54 shots he faced in Games 5 and 6.
But…best goalie in the league? That’s setting the bar awfully high.