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]

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Predators 2

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Associated Press

Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Predators 2

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Wayne Simmonds scored two power-play goals and the Flyers won their fifth straight, extending their longest win streak of the season with a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night at Bridgestone Arena.

Michael Raffl and Chris VandeVelde also scored for the Flyers (14-10-3), who have four straight wins over Nashville (11-9-4).

Calle Jarnkrok and Colin Wison scored for the Predators.

Simmonds’ first power-play goal gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Nashville tied the game at 1-1 when Jarnkrok redirected Mattias Ekholm’s shot at 3:17 of the second period.

Simmonds struck again on the power play just over three minutes later when he batted a puck through Juuse Saros' legs for a 2-1 lead. Simmonds leads the Flyers with 13 goals on the year.

Wilson’s backhander tied it at 2-2 when he took a nice pass from Mike Fisher before beating Steve Mason blocker side at 11:19 of the second period.
    
Michael Raffl gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead on a 2-on-1 rush at of the second period. Raffl sped past a Nashville defender and used a power move at the front of the net before sliding the puck past Saros for game's deciding tally.

VandeVelde added an empty netter with 26.3 seconds left.
 
Moving up

Claude Gioux’s second-period assist moved him past Rod Brind-Amour into sixth in Flyers history with 367 helpers.

Giroux played in last year’s All-Star Game in Nashville.

Milestone
Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning played in his 100th career game.

Back and forth
The Flyers took three one-goal leads during the first two periods and the Predators tied the score twice before the visitors took a 3-2 lead into the final 20 minutes.

Double trouble
Simmonds tied his season high with two goals in a game. His first two-goal game came in a 6-3 loss at Toronto on Nov. 11.

The Flyers' winger has 10 goals in 20 career games against Nashville.

Back to backs
The Flyers improved to 5-1-1 on the back end of back-to-back games. The Flyers beat Chicago, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Goalie report
Mason improved to 9-8-3 after making 26 saves. He withstood a late push by Nashville.

Power play
The Flyers' power play went 2 for 7 with two goals by Simmonds.

The Flyers got a four-minute power play when Filip Forsberg was called for high sticking Nick Cousins at 3:12 of the third period, but couldn’t capitalize. That brought a roar from the sellout crowd of 17,113.

Penalty kill
The penalty kill went a perfect 3 for 3. The Flyers got some puck luck when Filip Forsberg’s wrist shot from the right faceoff circle bounced off the right post while Simmonds was in the box for tripping midway through the first period.
 
Scratches
Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas (sick), left wing Scott Laughton (healthy) and defenseman Nick Schultz (healthy) were scratched.

Up next
The Flyers host Florida on Tuesday to start a three-game homestand. Edmonton visits the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday and Dallas visits on Saturday afternoon.

Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson disagree on mechanical issues

Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson disagree on mechanical issues

CINCINNATI – Normally upbeat and positive, Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz gave a terse answer, at least by his standards.

After the Eagles’ 32-14 loss to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium (see Instant Replay), a game that was probably the worst of his young career, Wentz was asked about his proclivity for overthrowing his targets.

“Bad throw,” Wentz said blankly. “Just like last week.”

Those bad throws have been coming more and more frequently in recent weeks for the second-overall pick. After throwing one interception in his first five games, he’s thrown 10 in his last seven, including his first three-interception day on Sunday. A common thread has been overthrows.

When head coach and former QBs coach Doug Pederson was asked about those high throws from his prized quarterback, he said, “It’s strictly mechanics.” Pederson elaborated, saying they need to get Wentz off his back foot and stepping into throws. And then there were batted passes too.

“There were opportunities, obviously,” Pederson said. “Again, he's a young quarterback who missed a lot of time in the preseason, but now we just need to keep cleaning those things up.”

There might be a problem, though.

Wentz doesn’t seem to think there’s anything to clean up.

After Sunday’s embarrassing loss, the rookie said his mechanics feel the same now as they did when the Eagles started the season with three consecutive wins, before he had ever thrown a pick in the NFL.

“I don't think it's the mechanics,” Wentz said. “You make mistakes. Things happen, and that's just the bottom line.”

Is there anything that could be affecting his mechanics?

“I don't think so,” Wentz said. “You throw the ball 60 times, you're going to miss some. That kind of happens.”

Wentz seemed hesitant to take blame for his shaky play on Sunday (see breakdown of Wentz's performance), but he is right. Sixty passing attempts is an awful lot. In fact, it’s a record for an Eagles rookie and it’s the second most passing attempts a rookie quarterback has ever thrown in a game (Chris Weinke threw 63 in 2001).  

The reason for that, at least partially, on Sunday was the Eagles’ never got going offensively and their defense was porous at best, which led to the Bengals’ taking a 19-0 lead into halftime (see 10 observations from the loss). They had to try to throw their way back into the game.

“You never want your quarterback to throw 60 times, coming from behind,” Pederson said. “We put ourselves in a bind early in the football game. It’s going to be a learning lesson for him, obviously. We have to take a hard look at it. But by no means, the fact that he stood in there and still led the football team. He took some shots, but still stood in there and just shows you the kind of character and the toughness we have.”

For Wentz, who was once though to be the clear frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, the last couple months have been understandably difficult.

In the first four games of the season, he had a passer rating over 100 three times. He hasn't broken 100 since then and his 58.2 rating on Sunday was the second-worst of the season, behind his 52.4 in a winning effort against the Vikings.

“You just can't get down,” Wentz said. “You've got to stay optimistic. Obviously, the results are tough as of late. We're kind of on a skid. Like I've been saying, this is a good group of guys, a good locker room. Guys are in it until the end.”

It’s important to remember that, initially, Wentz wasn’t drafted to play this season. The original plan was to have him sit this season, but he was thrust into action after the Eagles traded away Sam Bradford.

Ultimately, Wentz will be judged for his play in years to come. For now, though, he and the Eagles have to try to find a way to fix this.

How do they do it?

“Obviously, we're on a skid,” Wentz said. “There's nothing really to change. We've just got to lock in and we've got to be more disciplined. At the same time, you don't get down. That's what I've been saying. This locker room, guys aren't going to get down. We've just got to be better with our discipline and just keep attacking. Obviously, we're in a tough spot, but we've just got to take it one game at a time.”