Once the Flyers’ season goes
quietly into the night this Saturday in Ottawa, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will
still have seven years remaining on his contract at nearly $40 million. While
many are anticipating the front office’s use one of two compliance buyouts to
get out from under such a lengthy and expensive deal, the club’s general
manager claims that will not be the case.
Paul Holmgren spoke with ESPN’s
Pierre LeBrun about the Flyers’ disappointing season, touching on several of
the issues that his team faced this year, and answering difficult questions
about the future. Among the latter was what will happen to Bryzgalov in the
offseason after his terrible year between the pipes – at least statistically (.898
SV%, 2.84 GAA) – is over, especially in light of the trade for Steve Mason.
Bryz detractors will not be
happy to hear that Homer doesn’t think the netminder is going anywhere.
is a guy that we've liked. When the opportunity came up to make the trade for
him, it was the intention of having good goaltending," Holmgren said.
"I think right now with Ilya and Steve, we've got good goaltending moving
forward. Any talk of anything other than that I think is out of bounds."
The point, Holmgren said, is to protect Bryzgalov next season so he doesn't
have to play too many games.
"Ilya played a lot of games this year, but he's not going to play 82 games
next season," Holmgren said. "You need a guy that can go in. Steve's
a young guy still, he's had some success at an early age in our league. I think
working with (goalies coach) Jeff Reese he can
get back to a good level. He certainly has the right attitude about it. He's
been great since he's been here."
To be clear, I asked Holmgren if there was any basis at all to the speculation
of a Bryzgalov buyout.
"No," he said.
Obviously we’ve all heard
coaches and general managers say one thing then do another, so the fact that
Holmgren gave Bryzgalov a vote of confidence of sorts doesn’t necessarily mean
anything. One line of thinking as Tweeted by the Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi is although
management might have Bryz slated to return for now, minds could change if it
was later decided that $5.67 million cap hit could be better served someplace
Carchidi also suggests there
are others in the front office who wouldn’t necessarily agree with Holmgren anyway. As we’ve mentioned before though, Bryzgalov seems to have the ultimate
support, that of owner Ed Snider, who believes (probably justifiably) that the
goaltender has not been a huge part of the problem with the Flyers this season.
But, again, minds do change.
People say one thing then do another.
Obviously this is not over yet,
and even if Bryz is not “amnestied” during the offseason, the story won’t be
going anyway anytime soon. The Flyers can use their buyouts in the 2014
offseason as well, which means we might be monitoring whether the cosmonaut is
coming or going for another year.
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