Bryzgalov signs camp deal with ECHL team

Bryzgalov signs camp deal with ECHL team
October 3, 2013, 9:15 pm
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Ilya Bryzgalov posted a .900 save percentage last season with the Flyers. (USA Today Images)

Ilya Bryzgalov will be back on the ice and between the pipes for a hockey team. But it won't be in the NHL, at least not yet.

The 33-year-old goaltender signed a professional try-out agreement with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers, the team announced Thursday. The agreement allows Bryzgalov to participate in Wranglers training camp.

"Having missed camp this year, an experience like this is critical for me to be ready for NHL play, and I can't wait to get on the ice," Bryzgalov said in a statement released by the team. "Everyone's motivation here is largely driven by an unparalled passion for the game, and this will offer me a very interesting perspective and be a great opportunity for me to reflect on why I started playing this great game in the first place. It's going to be something very special, and I expect I will learn as much from this experience as any other I have had in my career."

Bryzgalov spent the past two seasons with the Flyers before the remainder of his nine-year, $51 million contract was bought out by the team. It was the largest buyout in NHL history. The buyout gives him $1.6 million per year over 14 years.

But, instead of finding a new home in the NHL in the offseason, Bryzgalov missed camp -- one of his reasons for going to the ECHL in the first place.

"To be clear, I intend to return to the NHL, and to be ready for game action when an NHL opportunity opens up," Bryzgalov said. "I intend to work hard while I am here in Las Vegas, and to return the support I have received from my family, the many fans who have reached out to me with words of encouragement, and the Wranglers organization with actions, not words. This is a unique opportunity for me to be an example to my own children, to the young fans who have supported me, to my new teammates, and eventually to the NHL teammates who will come to rely on me again."

"Having a world-class player like Ilya in camp is a great opportunity for our organization and our players," Wranglers head coach and general manager Mike Madill said. "Operating independently of an NHL affiliation allows us the freedom to explore these types of opportunites, and we are thrilled to have Ilya here to work with us, and our goaltenders especially. It will be an amazing experience for them."

According to the statement, Bryzgalov will not make any further comments until the end of Wranglers training camp in order to allow the team to focus and prepare for their upcoming season.

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