After trading for his rights ten days ago, this week was when the Flyers planned to give Ilya Bryzgalov their best sales pitch. They flew him from his home in Russia to JFK Airport aboard Ed Snider’s private jet. They talked dollars, they talked years, they showed him the city, and gave him an idea of what to expect if he were to become the newest member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Now that Bryzgalov has experienced a few days of brotherly love, what do we know that we didn’t know before he arrived from Russia.
Explicitly, nothing—which is exactly how the Flyers brass and Bryzgalov’s agent want it. Here is Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren’s official statement:
“We have spoken with Ilya and his agent Ritch Winter about many different scenarios. As for now, we both know each other’s position and have agreed to speak again next week.”
For better or worse, Holmgren’s statement is the only comment that’s been released for public consumption. Fans who want Bryzgalov to wear the creamsicle orange and black can read into the comment that they made progress and working towards a contract as early as next week. Pessimists (or opponents who want Bryzgalov) can read the prepared statement as something like, “we know each other’s position and we’re not close enough to continue negotiating at this time.” That’s why these public comments can cause so much debate. The beauty of subjectivity.
Adding another twist to the plot is the Flyers current salary cap situation. Even if they had reached an agreement with Bryzgalov, they can’t sign the former Coyotes netminder quite yet. Though it’s the offseason, Bryzgalov would put the team too far over the cap. They’d need to make a corresponding move (or two) that sheds salary before they could bring Bryzgalov’s contract into the fold. Tim Panaccio from CSN Philly breaks it down:
“Ideally, Holmgren would like to have a deal in place before he goes to next weekend’s NHL Draft in Minnesota so he can move players for draft picks (the Flyers don’t have a first- or second-round pick).
Here’s the rub: it’s entirely possible that the Flyers already have the framework for a deal with Bryzgalov, but it’s unfinished. Even if the deal got done this weekend, the Flyers can’t announce it until June 30.
Why? Because this is where the tagging issue comes in under the CBA. The new salary cap is slated to be announced on June 30. At present, the Flyers have less than $450,000 in cap space for next season under the current cap ceiling of $59.4 million.”
The point about making a deal before the NHL Draft next weekend is a valid one. If the Flyers are going to make multiple moves to clear up salary space for Bryzgalov, obviously they won’t want to take much salary back in each trade. Instead of roster-ready players, they’d like be looking for high-end prospects and draft picks. Since the Flyers won’t pick until the 83rd pick in the draft (Dan Hamhuis trade), Holmgren would love to get a few picks in first couple of rounds.
For better or worse, the Flyers can’t do anything until they internally figure out the Bryzgalov’s deal. Once they have an idea of Bryzgalov’s contract number (or if they’ll sign him at all), then they’ll be able to start clearing out space for the goaltender. Unfortunately, there’s no point to clearing out cap space with guys like Jeff Carter or Scott Hartnell if they can’t guarantee that Bryzgalov will sign on the dotted line. But if/when they know Bryzgalov will be a Flyer, it’ll be interesting to see which players the team chooses to sell off and what assets they can acquire in return.
For now, first thing’s first.