There’s no question that signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million contract proved to be a major mistake for the Philadelphia Flyers and it’s one they will literally pay for through 2026-27 after buying out his contract.
As bad as that is though, the fact that it also cost them Sergei Bobrovsky might hurt more. The Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender won the Vezina Trophy in 2013 and led his team to the playoffs last season after being dealt by Philadelphia in 2012 for a second round pick and a pair of fourth round selections.
The Flyers were criticized for giving up on Bobrovsky too soon, but Flyers owner Ed Snider argued that the young netminder forced former GM Paul Holmgren’s hand.
“Not only did we make a mistake on the long-term contract (to Bryzgalov), but Bobrovksy’s a young guy and he told Paul, ‘As soon as my contract’s out, I’m out of here,’” Snider told CSN Philly.
“He wasn’t going to re-sign with us. He was going to go back to Russia [or] he was going to go with another team, but he wasn’t going to be a second-string goalie for the rest of his life. So that was also a problem, and Paul made the best of the situation.
“It’s not that we did not like Bobrovsky. The whole thing was a fiasco. We can’t look back. What happened, happened, and here we are. But then Paul made what I think was a great move in picking up Mason, who’s not chopped liver.”
As Snider mentioned, the Flyers are now putting their hopes in Steve Mason. He had a 2.50 GAA and .917 save percentage in 61 games in 2013-14 and will start a three-year, $12.3 million contract this season. What happened with the Flyers’ goaltending situation is, as Snider asserted, in the past. They just have to hope that Mason doesn’t begin to struggle again like he did for years in Columbus before coming to Philadelphia. If he does, then the Flyers’ goaltending soap opera might simply just be entering its next chapter.