The Edmonton Oilers have traded goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to Minnesota for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft.
Bryzgalov is a pending unrestricted free agent with a .908 save percentage in 20 appearances this season. The 33-year-old was signed as a free agent in November, in what was seen at the time as a desperation move by the Oilers.
Meanwhile, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register was the first to report that the Oilers have acquired goalie Viktor Fasth from the Ducks, apparently for a fifth-rounder in 2014 and a third in 2015.
Fasth was a revelation early last season, but has struggled in limited appearances for Anaheim this season. The 31-year-old is signed through next season for a cap hit of $2.9 million, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent.
The Oilers also signed goalie Ben Scrivens to a two-year contract extension yesterday.
For Anaheim, the Fasth trade makes sense if they intend to re-sign their pending UFA netminder Jonas Hiller. And even if they don’t, they have young goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson in the system.
For Minnesota, Bryzgalov gives them insurance, and possibly even a starter, for the playoffs. Darcy Kuemper has played well of late, but is still inexperienced. Niklas Backstrom has struggled with inconsistency and injuries, and Josh Harding has been forced to deal with complications from MS.
Ilya Bryzgalov has a long history of giving unusual quotes, to the point where it rubbed Flyers GM Paul Holmgren the wrong way long before he was bought out. That issue hasn’t come up since he moved to Edmonton, but lately his reactions to conceded goals is drawing some unwanted attention.
The first incident occurred during Saturday’s game when his former Flyers scored the game-tying goal late in the third period and tossed his stick in frustration:
He started again on Tuesday and this time surrendered the game-tying goal to Phoenix’s Mikkel Boedker with just 1:10 minutes left in the third period. That led to him throwing his arms up in frustration and glared at one of his defensemen:
“If you’re doing it at one of your teammates, that’s not a very good thing to do, because sooner or later you’re going to make a mistake and I’m fairly certain you’re not going to want your teammates doing that to you,” Eakins told the Edmonton Sun, although he added that he doesn’t want to assume that Bryzgalov was attempting to call anyone out.
Eakins talked to Bryzgalov after he tossed his stick in the Flyers’ game and told him that he’s good with a goaltender venting frustration like that a couple times a season, but he still needs to “watch (his) body language on the ice.”
Of course, we’re only talking about this because the Oilers allowed late, game-tying goals in back-to-back contests. If that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be able to develop a pattern based on how Bryzgalov reacts in those situations.
Edmonton is last in the Western Conference with a 13-24-5 record.
Ilya Bryzgalov’s first match against the Philadelphia Flyers since he was bought out didn’t end with a victory, but he was credited with keeping his Edmonton Oilers in the game long enough to earn a point.
Naturally, when it came time for the postgame interview, the reporters gathered were eager to ask him about how he felt about facing his old team.
“Thank you for the question,” Bryzgalov said before dismissing what the game meant to him by pointing out that he had previously played against former teams.
When it was pointed out that his situation with the Flyers was made unique by the fact that his nine-year contract was jettisoned after just two seasons, Bryzgalov just shrugged and said, “So?”
That reaction isn’t unique for him. While he’s known for some of his more colorful quotes, he has downplayed the importance of this issue to him in the past. Even before he was bought out, he was shrugging off the possibility.
“To be honest, I don’t care,” he said back in April. “Really, I don’t care. I have no control on this, so why should I care?”
You can view his complete postgame comments below:
Ilya Bryzgalov kept the Edmonton Oilers in the game on Saturday, but he couldn’t beat his old team, as the Philadelphia Flyers managed a 4-3 shootout win.
(The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi points out that shootouts haven’t been a strong point for Bryzgalov, so some might find this fitting.)
The Oilers didn’t play coy about Bryzgalov salvaging a point from the game.
“We were basically hanging on by a thread in the second period,” Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought Bryz held us in the game.”
“He got us a point tonight,” Jordan Eberle said of Bryzgalov, according to Carchidi.
The 33-year-old stopped 35 out of 38 shots while Steve Mason got the win despite only making 13 out of 16 saves. Edmonton saw a two-game winning streak end while Philly is now on a two-game winning streak of its own.
Rather than blaming a netminder under the microscope, the Oilers can blame being out-played, giving up a 2-0 lead and failing on the penalty kill.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall gave Edmonton that 2-0 cushion, but two Wayne Simmonds power-play goals tied it up in the second period. The two teams then traded another power-play tally each to send it into overtime.
Ultimately, the game got to the shootout, with the Flyers scoring twice and Edmonton beating Mason once. Barring a wildly unlikely Stanley Cup Final or a trade, Breezy won’t face Philly again this season.
At least he made it count, though, even if he didn’t win.
He hasn’t exactly stunned the hockey world with his recent play, but Ilya Bryzgalov has managed to re-establish himself in Edmonton after two roller coaster years with Philadelphia. That’s been overshadowed by the Oilers’ overall struggles, but he’ll be the center of attention on Saturday as Edmonton has confirmed that he’ll start against the Flyers for the first time since he was bought out.
Bryzgalov has tried to put his chapter in Philadelphia behind him and when the subject came up today, he couldn’t have done much more to dodge questions about the match up:
At the same time, this can’t be just another game. There was no shortage of strife between him and the Flyers organization. Plus, even by the standards of a buyout, his ended up being particularly messy with his agent, Ritch Winter blasted the Flyers’ defensive system after his client was called a “costly mistake.”
“It’s terrible for goaltenders in Philadelphia,” Winter insisted.
Well, now Bryzgalov will try his luck at the other end of the ice in a Flyers’ game.
“It’s going to be weird,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
It’s going to be interesting at the very least.
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