Panotch: Flyers Considering Buyout for Bryzgalov – Should They?

Panotch: Flyers Considering Buyout for Bryzgalov – Should They?

There has been talk of using a compliance buyout on Ilya’s Bryzgalov since the term entered the NHL lexicon. According to Tim Panaccio’s sources, that option may be close to becoming a reality.

According to a report filed by Panotch on Friday, the Flyers’ are indeed weighing whether or not to use the amnesty clause on Bryz this summer. Ed Snider had previously endorsed the controversial netminder, but when asked for comment on this story, the club chairman simply replied, “Ask Paul [Holmgren].”

Bryzgalov, who turns 33 this month, is coming off of his worst season in the NHL, posting a .900 save percentage and 2.79 goals against average. While porous defense in front of Bryz was partly to blame for the awful numbers in 2013, critics feel his play was a big part of the problem as well, and he has been generally lackluster since arriving two years ago.

While the Flyers would still owe in excess of $22 million on his contract, the team would save $5.67 million per year over the next seven against the salary cap with the buyout.

Of course, a sizable chunk of that money would wind up going right back into paying another goaltender to replace Bryz. According to Panotch, the front office could target either the Niklas Backstrom, unrestricted free agent from the Wild, or LA Kings backup and restricted FA Jonathan Bernier.

Backstrom, 35, was earning $6 million per year on his expiring deal. They could trade for his rights and try to sign him to a contract before he hits the market, just as they did with Mark Streit. It's unclear whether he solves the Flyers’ problems though, other than allowing the franchise to get out from under Bryzgalov’s enormous contract. Backstrom is on the downside of his career, and unless he’s available at a significant discount, that seems like throwing good money after bad.

The Wild have expressed an interest in retaining Backstrom, who likewise admitted he hopes to stay in Minnesota, perhaps taking that possibility off the table.

If the Flyers went after Bernier, they might have to strike a deal with the Kings. Panotch suggests a package of Matt Read and more might land Jonathan Quick’s understudy, and the soon-to-be-25-year-old could be in line for a contract commensurate of a starter. Bernier has posted solid numbers in 62 career NHL games, going 29-20-6 with a .912 SV% and 2.36 GAA.

Los Angeles will certainly listen to suitors, but the price in both trade and contract could be steep for a player who’s never had to hold down a starting job. Meanwhile, the intriguing Steve Mason (25) is already on the Flyers’ roster, and 2012 second-round pick Anthony Stolarz (19) has been tearing it up in the OHL. Trading quality players and/or prospects and making a long-term commitment to a somewhat unproven goalie may not be the wisest strategy right this moment.

One reason Panotch gave for the possible change of heart among Flyers’ brass is a growing belief Bryz may want out. He doesn’t have the full support of his teammates, frequently battles the local media, and recently made comments in Russia that garnered negative attention back in Philly.

Of course, why wouldn’t Bryzgalov want his contract bought out? He’s a competitor, so he’d presumably welcome the opportunity to finish what he started here, but if the Flyers go for amnesty, he’ll still see two-thirds of the money from his current contract, plus have the freedom to go out and collect a second paycheck somewhere else.

A final decision has yet to be reached, but until Holmgren says otherwise, we are being led to believe the organization is actually considering this. If Bryz’s presence is really viewed as being that destructive, then it makes perfect sense.

If it’s just a play to save a couple million against the cap while attempting to improve the situation in goal, they might be better served by waiting. The Flyers can get another year out of Bryzgalov and see whether or not he returns to form, then use a buyout next year if they like. In turn, that would give them more time to evaluate Mason and develop Stolarz without getting locked into a contract with another goalie.

What the Flyerrs will decide is anybody’s guess at this point. One league executive told Panoccio he would not be surprised either way. Will you?

>> Sources: Flyers considering buyout for Bryzgalov [CSN]

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).