Ilya Bryzgalov

Report: Colorado says no thanks to Bryzgalov

10 Comments

Calvin Pickard made his first two career starts on Thursday and Saturday because the Colorado Avalanche are missing goaltenders Semyon Varlamov (groin) and Reto Berra (neck). In light of that Ilya Bryzgalov’s agent reached out to the Avalanche, but the team isn’t interested in his services, according to Sportsnet.

Bryzgalov took part in the Minnesota Wild’s training camp, but he wasn’t able to secure a contract with the team. He had a 2.68 GAA and .909 save percentage in 32 games with Edmonton and the Wild in 2013-14.

Colorado’s reported rejection of Bryzgalov might have less to do with him and more to do with the team’s overall circumstances though. The possibility of signing free agent goaltender Martin Brodeur was also shot down, in part because the Avalanche don’t view Varlamov and Berra’s injuries as serious enough to warrant bringing in a veteran.

After winning the Central Division last season, Colorado is off to a 1-4-1 start in 2014-15.

Wild release Bryzgalov

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31: Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Minnesota Wild reacts to play during a break in the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on March 31, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The Minnesota Wild won 3-2.
17 Comments

The Minnesota Wild have once again parted ways with Ilya Bryzgalov — though perhaps not entirely.

On Monday, the Wild released Bryzgalov from his training camp PTO but, according to the Star-Tribune, the club is still in talks with the veteran netminder about his future.

Bryzgalov was invited to Wild camp in mid-September with the club’s goaltending situation in a state of flux. Josh Harding broke his foot and Darcy Kuemper was embroiled in a contract dispute, leaving Niklas Backstrom as the lone NHL netminder available (John Curry was also in camp, but has just six games of NHL experience.)

That Minnesota reached out to Bryzgalov wasn’t surprising. The Russian netminder had earlier expressed an affinity for the organization and city, instructing his agent to try and work out a deal to return to Minnesota under any circumstances.

Per the Star-Tribune (Aug. 21)

“Ilya would very much like to return to the Wild and further the success the team had down the stretch last year,” agent Ritch Winter said. “It was one of the most satisfying experiences he has had in his career.

“Ilya loved his teammates in Minnesota, loved the city and loved and appreciated the support he received from the coaching staff and Wild fans. He would love to be a part of helping this team to enjoy the success they had together last year.

“He has instructed me to do all I can to facilitate a return to the Twin Cities even if it requires him to compromise somewhat to accommodate the budget issues facing the team if that becomes a possibility.”

In light of this, it’s not surprising to hear the Wild and Bryzgalov remain in contact about his future. He could join AHL Iowa in the hopes of getting called up should Backstrom or Kuemper go down to injury.

Wild hand Bryzgalov a training camp tryout

Ilya Bryzgalov
28 Comments

Shortly after word surfaced that Josh Harding will be out indefinitely, many believed that Darcy Kuemper might finally gain the leverage needed to strike a beneficial deal with the Minnesota Wild. That may still be the case, but Wild GM Chuck Fletcher played his remaining chess piece on Wednesday by handing Ilya Bryzgalov a professional tryout.

The team announced that the 34-year-old will be in camp with the team on Friday.

Naturally, the intrigue doesn’t stop here.

Will this pressure Kuemper to take a compromised deal? Could this mean that Bryzgalov might be more inclined to accept a two-way offer he wasn’t particularly interested in before?

It all makes for about as interesting as a training camp situation as one can ask for in the NHL, aside from maybe when a team hits a wall with a prized player and people start airing out dirty laundry.

Really, it’s surprising that Bryzgalov hasn’t found a friendlier offer in free agency, though. For all of his weird quotes and recent struggles, he’s an experienced goalie (457 regular season games with a solid .913 career save percentage) who isn’t that far removed from being a Vezina-caliber netminder with the Phoenix Coyotes. He’s “carried the mail” as a No. 1 before, which is something very few backups can say.

All of that aside, would it be worth it if the Wild saved money and went with Bryzgalov + Niklas Backstrom for at least the beginning of the season instead of spending a little more to see how promising Kuemper really is?

It’s a pretty fascinating situation, and as we know with “Breezy,” things tend to become more entertaining when he’s involved.

Snider: Flyers not hiding behind ‘horrible mistake’ of signing Bryzgalov

Ilya Bryzgalov
22 Comments

It’s been well over a year since the Philadelphia Flyers bought out goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, yet it’s still a topic of conversation for the club’s chairman Ed Snider.

The Flyers signed Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million contract in the summer prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season, but used a compliance buyout on the eccentric puck stopper after just two lackluster seasons.

“I’m proud of (former general manager and now team president Paul Holmgren) and our guys in the sense that they don’t hide behind their mistakes,” Snider said Saturday, as per the Star Ledger and NJ.com.

“They don’t say, ‘Oh, we’re gonna keep this guy because we’ll be criticized for making this horrible mistake.’

“The guy is not a bad goalie, but somehow or another he didn’t fit here.

“We’ve had goalie problems for some strange reason. Hopefully they’re behind us.”

After missing the post-season in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, and Bryzgalov in net for 40 of 48 games, the Flyers made it back to the Stanley Cup playoffs this past spring. They accomplished the feat with Steve Mason as their No. 1 goalie.

Mason, now 26 years old, is the Calder Trophy winner as the NHL’s top rookie from 2009. But he had fallen on hard times after that in Columbus, struggling there with his game until he was traded to Philadelphia in April of 2013.

He enjoyed a bounce back season with the Flyers, posting a 33-18-7 record, but with a goals-against average of 2.50 and save percentage of .917 that ranked 25th and 21st in the league, respectively.

As it was last season, the Flyers will go with Mason and Ray Emery, with the latter under contract for one more season, according to Capgeek.com.

Mason didn’t enter into Philadelphia’s first-round match-up with the New York Rangers until midway through the series. He later revealed he had been suffering from a concussion prior to his start in Game 4.

“What I’m trying to say is I don’t know how close we are (to a Stanley Cup), but I don’t know what would have happened if we had beaten the Rangers. I don’t know what would have happened if Mason started the series and played all seven games,” said Snider, as per Philly.com.

“I’m not knocking (Ray) Emery, but I think if Mason had played all the games, we would have won the round. We’d have gone to the second round. Mason would have been the goalie.”

Agent: Bryzgalov ‘loved’ Minnesota, really wants to return

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31: Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Minnesota Wild reacts to play during a break in the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on March 31, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The Minnesota Wild won 3-2.
22 Comments

Even though he knows Minnesota’s goal crease is crowded, Ilya Bryzgalov still wants back with the Wild.

Per the Star-Tribune

“Ilya would very much like to return to the Wild and further the success the team had down the stretch last year,” agent Ritch Winter said. “It was one of the most satisfying experiences he has had in his career.

“Ilya loved his teammates in Minnesota, loved the city and loved and appreciated the support he received from the coaching staff and Wild fans. He would love to be a part of helping this team to enjoy the success they had together last year.

“He has instructed me to do all I can to facilitate a return to the Twin Cities even if it requires him to compromise somewhat to accommodate the budget issues facing the team if that becomes a possibility.”

Bryzgalov, 34, is currently an unrestricted free agent and the Wild aren’t exactly in the market for a goalie, with Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom already under contract and a new deal being hammered out for RFA Darcy Kuemper.

That said, this latest development could give Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher some added leverage at the negotiating table. There appears to be a significant rift between what the Wild think Kuemper’s worth and what Kuemper’s camp is angling for, something Fletcher alluded to in early August.

“Darcy certainly has great potential and played very well in stretches for us this season, but at the end of the day I think he’s played around 30 games in the NHL,” he told the Star-Tribune. “Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract. We feel Darcy right now is trying to establish himself in the league and once he does that it’ll be a little simpler to come up with terms.”

Fletcher has also stated publicly that “everything’s a go” with Harding and Backstrom health-wise. Harding’s shown improvement from his setback with multiple sclerosis, while Backstrom is apparently recovered from season-ending core muscle surgery he underwent in March.

All of this could put the squeeze on Kuemper… or, it could possibly open the door for Bryzgalov to return on, say, a two-way deal and be the first call-up should either Harding or Backstrom struggle with their health again.

Bryzgalov actually played OK for the Wild last season, going 7-1-3 with a 2.12 GAA and .911 save percentage in the regular season. After getting yanked as the team’s playoff starter early in the Colorado series, he rebounded to play reasonably well near the end of Wild’s second-round loss to Chicago, posting a .927 save percentage over the final two games.