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.