Flyers sign Bryzgalov to 9-year, 51 million deal

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Flyers sign Bryzgalov to 9-year, 51 million deal

Thursday, June 23, 2011
Posted: 4:55 p.m. Updated: 10:14 p.m.
By Sarah BaickerCSNPhilly.com
Really, it was only a matter of time.

After days of rumors, reports and denials, the Flyers have finally inked goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year deal worth 51 million.

Ilya is one of the top, upper-echelon goalies in the league, general manager Paul Holmgren said. In bringing him in, he does give us stability. We still have young guys we think a world of who can grow with our team. Well see how that goes. By adding Ilya and maintaining the defense we had last year, we think were in a good spot.

Though the actual deal doesn't come as a surprise the general sense from both the Flyers and Bryzgalov's agent Ritch Winter in recent days was that an eventual agreement was expected it is a bit heftier than the seven-year dear originally reported earlier this week.

Bryzgalov, according to CapGeek.com, will earn 10 million in the first year of the deal next season, making him, as of now, the highest paid player in the NHL.

And what the Flyers gave up to make the long-term deal possible Jeff Carter and Mike Richards came as a shock.

When we made the deal to get negotiating rights to Ilya, it put the wheels in motion with a lot of teams, Holmgren said. We fielded a lot of calls from teams over the last 10 days."

The newly 31-year-old Bryzgalov (his birthday was Wednesday) appeared in 68 games last season, posting a 2.48 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. He had seven shutouts (the Flyers had none).

His postseason performance, however, did leave something to be desired. Bryzgalovs Phoenix Coyotes were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings, and Bryzgalovs goals-against average plummeted to 4.36.

Bryzgalov is a former runner-up for the Vezina Trophy, however (in 2009-10) and was the backup to J.S. Giguere in 2007 when the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup. Hes played with both Chris Pronger and Sean ODonnell.

The Flyers acquired the rights to negotiate with Bryzgalov on June 7, sending left wing Matt Clackson, a third-round draft pick in 2012, plus another conditional pick to Phoenix.

The Flyers then began negotiations with the top-tier goalie in earnest, having until July 1 to strike a deal or else risk losing Bryzgalov to free agency Bryzgalov made just one trip to Philadelphia, but all along it appeared as though a deal were imminent.

When we acquired his rights we had every intention of signing him, Holmgren said.

The Flyers and Bryzgalov first held meetings on June 16. As recently as Wednesday of this week the Flyers said a deal with Bryzgalov was still a work in progress if not a while away but rumors that a seven-year deal worth about 7 million a year was to be expected.

The big question now, of course, is what happens to young goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who will enter his sophomore year with the team.

Bobrovsky, 22, wowed the Flyers from the very beginning of last season, forcing them to keep him in the NHL instead of sending him to the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL to gain North American experience. Though his performance fell off a bit as the season progressed, and certainly did so in the playoffs, Bobrovsky proved he can play at a high level.

In addition, Bobrovsky and Bryzgalov are both Russian which could absolutely benefit Bobrovskys continued maturation and acclimation to the NHL.

But playing behind a veteran workhorse who can easily handle 60-plus games per season means Bobrovskys playing time would be drastically cut. Last year, his rookie year, he played in 54 games.

Will 20 or so games a season be enough to help Bobrovsky grow into the player the Flyers hope hell become? Or could Bob be the next Flyer offered up on the trading block?

We like him as a good young goalie in our league, Holmgren said. What it does to him, I am not sure. We like him. Our intention is to have him and Ilya as our goaltending tandem.

E-mail Sarah Baicker at sbaicker@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SBaickerCSN.
Related: Five questions that remain for the new-look Flyers A look at the three players acquired by the Flyers

Claude Giroux's struggles mirroring Flyers' offensive issues

Claude Giroux's struggles mirroring Flyers' offensive issues

PITTSBURGH -- He was plus-1 with an assist.
 
No shots on goal and obviously, no goals.
 
Another day's useless energy spent by Flyers captain Claude Giroux, skating around the rink looking for the net and finding nothing but darkness.
 
He hasn't scored a goal in nine games, which is a major reason why the Flyers are 2-6-1 over that same span of time, including Saturday night's 4-2 loss to the Penguins at Heinz Field in the Stadium Series (see game recap).
 
Indoors, outdoors it makes no difference right now for Dave Hakstol's band of minstrels. As goes the captain, so go the Flyers, and it's rough sledding these days with the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference fast disappearing.
 
"Yeah, it’s frustrating," Giroux said this weekend. "You try to do the best you can do to help the team. Right now it’s not going in. I really believe we’re playing some good hockey, playing the right way and we’re going to get rewarded soon."
 
Asked whether he believed his own production is a mirrored reflection of the team he plays for, Giroux hedged.
 
"You try to play the right way, do what’s asked of you," he replied. "I've had a lot of chances, but at the end of the day, it has to go in. We’re done with excuses."
 
Thing is, Giroux really hasn’t had that many chances. Just 13 shots during this nine-game stretch. In four of those games, he had no shots at all.
 
Teammate Jakub Voracek says it’s going to come for Giroux. But when? Time is running out on the Flyers.
 
"He's always been a streaky player," Voracek said. "And not streaky that he's going to go on a tear for 10 games and then disappear for 10. He was streaky for 18 and then struggled for two, then he had another 20 games.
 
"It's only a matter of time. I think the last two games he played really well. For the guys who don't watch the hockey game, they look at the stat sheet and say, 'Oh, he didn't have any points.' But that's the way it is."
 
The Flyers used the word "desperation" before and after their outdoor loss to the Penguins. They played another pretty good overall game, but one thing stood out: they didn't make it difficult enough for Pens goalie Matt Murray in terms of traffic.
 
Pittsburgh's fourth goal was an example of what the Flyers couldn't do – screen out the goalie.
 
"I thought in the first couple periods we – not a whole lot, but I thought there were a few opportunities where we didn't make it difficult enough for [Murray] to find the puck," Hakstol said.
 
"But we had enough quality, no question. We did have good quality. Is it enough? Obviously tonight it wasn't. We didn't win the hockey game."
 
There were spurts where the Flyers carried the play, showed momentum, and then it died. When Shayne Gostisbehere made it a 3-2 affair early in the third, the Flyers needed to seize the moment. They didn't get the equalizer.
 
Eight minutes later, the Penguins scored from the point off a lost faceoff draw between Evgeni Malkin and Sean Couturier. Michal Neuvirth didn't see the puck soon enough. On Matt Cullen's wraparound goal that made it 3-1, Neuvirth was unaware.
 
Neuvirth wasn't very good in this game.
 
"There's no question they had two or three spurts where they carried some momentum for short periods of time, but I thought overall through the 60 minutes, our group did a good job and played the type of game that we wanted to play," Hakstol said.
 
Giroux was asked this weekend how much pressure he is putting on himself right now to salvage the Flyers' fading playoff hopes.
 
"It’s tough not to put a lot of pressure on yourself when it’s not going the right way," Giroux said. "At the end of the day, you have to take a step back and know what you’re playing for.
 
"I’ve been playing since I was three years old and I love the game so much, just try to go out and enjoy the game even if it’s not going your way. You have to find a way to love the game and play with passion."
 
You've seen the Flyers do that throughout all this losing – 3-7-1 in their last 11 – but passion doesn't always result in goals. Voracek had a goal in this game. His second in three games.
 
The Flyers need a bunch of guys to get going simultaneously like last season when they made their playoff charge. Over the last 16 games (6-9-1), the Flyers have scored just 25 goals. That's a bad trend that needs to be reversed immediately.
 
"Obviously, we haven't been able to score a whole lot," Hakstol said. "There's been a lot made of that. And you know what, fairly so. I think that's fair.
 
"Yet tonight, I look at the opportunities at this time of year, the type of opportunities and the number of opportunities that we generated were pretty reasonable.
 
"We've got to stick with it. We've gone through a tough stretch here, and through that stretch we've played for the vast majority, we've played some pretty good hockey.  ... We've got to make sure that we completely stay together as we have, and we've got to keep pushing the envelope."
 
Hakstol was pleading his case.
 
Whether he wins it, is another story.

Brandon Manning to face hearing for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

Brandon Manning to face hearing for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

As if Saturday night's deflating loss to the Penguins at Heinz Field wasn't enough, the Flyers could be coming out of the defeat minus a defenseman in the lineup.

Brandon Manning will have a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Monday morning for his hit on Pittsburgh forward Jake Guentzel during the second period of the Stadium Series game.

That means a suspension is looming.

Just over three minutes into the second stanza on Saturday, Guentzel tried to corral a bouncing puck as he exited the Penguins' zone. He did not see Manning, who flattened him with a huge hit.

While the hit did seem a bit late in real speed to the naked eye, no interference penalty was called and play continued. Manning did look to leave his feet to the deliver the hit and make contact with Guentzel's head, though, so both could work against him during the hearing.

Video of the hit in question can be seen above.

Guentzel was not injured on the play, stayed in the game and finished the evening with two assists.

Manning has a clean history as he has never been suspended in the NHL.

If Manning does get suspended by the league, Michael Del Zotto is likely to draw back into the Flyers' lineup Tuesday against visiting Colorado.

Del Zotto, who is a prime candidate to be moved before Wednesday's trade deadline, has sat out the past three games as a healthy scratch.