It could be that one of the most fascinating characters, sought after sound bites and maligned goalies the National Hockey League has seen in recent years could be on his way to … the East Coast Hockey League.
According to reports, former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is close to signing with Las Vegas in the ECHL.
How the mighty have fallen, if this turns out to be true.
Bryzgalov, who turned 33 years of age this past June, played only two seasons with the Flyers after signing a nine-year, $51 million deal in 2011.
The Flyers used one of their two compliance buyouts on Bryzgalov this summer, ending his often entertaining but frustrating tenure in Philadelphia.
As a member of the Flyers, Bryzgalov won 52 regular season games in 99 games played. He struggled mightily last season, posting a 19-17-3-1 record.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are not — repeat: not — currently interested in Ilya Bryzgalov.
That’s according to Pens beat writer Josh Yohe of the Tribune-Review, who cites a “very reliable source” in the wake of yesterday’s report to the contrary.
With Pens backup Tomas Vokoun out indefinitely with a blood-clot issue, it’s expected Jeff Zatkoff will get the first chance to play behind starter Marc-Andre Fleury.
If Fleury gets off to a solid start, the Pens may not feel the need to bring in an experienced backup. But if he’s as shaky as he was in the playoffs and Vokoun’s future remains cloudy, they may opt to do something about it.
Whether that something is Bryzgalov is another question. The 33-year-old comes with a fair bit of baggage, and he wouldn’t arrive in Pittsburgh without a good-sized media circus surrounding him. Not to mention, he wasn’t very good last year in Philly.
Unfortunately for the Pens, there isn’t much in the way of available free agents. Jose Theodore and Johan Hedberg are still unsigned for a reason. So for now it’s up to Fleury. But if he struggles out of the gate, feel free to fire up the Ryan Miller speculation.
Related: Marc-Andre Fleury is under pressure
The Pittsburgh Penguins might just take a bad situation – Tomas Vokoun being out with a scary blood clot – and make it about as entertaining as possible. The team is reportedly interested in Ilya Bryzgalov, Lisa Hillary reports.
(It seems prudent to put reportedly in bold in this case because, well, let’s just say that the Penguins-Flyers rivalry brings out the … feisty side in many people.)
Naturally, even if the “interest” is there, the Penguins might pass. They didn’t even bring the 33-year-old in on a professional tryout, so this could be some really surface-level stuff.
Despite the circus that’s likely to follow Bryzgalov, especially if he signs with Pittsburgh, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. While Breezy struggled in Philadelphia, he also put up fantastic numbers in Phoenix. Not bad for a backup who might not even command much of a contract.
Speaking of which, NHL.com’s Adam Kimmelman believes that the Penguins would make room for Bryzgalov by placing Vokoun on the LTIR.
But, let’s be honest; the reason many are excited is for the laughs. Here’s an early one from Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski.