Flyers will pay Ilya Bryzgalov $20k to play against them

Flyers will pay Ilya Bryzgalov $20k to play against them

Ilya “Costly Mistake” Bryzgalov made it back to the NHL last month, though he doesn’t look the part quite yet. Bryz still dons a plain white mask when he’s between the pipes for the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s a wonder he hasn’t adorned his mask with rare jewels, courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers. Bryzgalov hit the jackpot over the summer when the organization used a compliance buyout on the quirky goaltender, agreeing instead to pay him $23 million in yearly installments of $1,642,857.14 until 2027.

That’s $20,034.84 per game over an 82-game season—almost as much as Edmonton will pay him to play against the Flyers on Saturday night.

A lot of people might retire after winning the lottery. Bryz decided to go back to work, only finding a job wasn’t going to be easy.

Let’s just say NHL teams weren’t exactly lining up at the door to acquire Bryzgalov’s services. His eccentric attitude was a red flag even before he arrived in Philly, and was only exacerbated by the shark pool that can be the local media. And while he was a popular scapegoat for the Flyers’ failure to make the playoffs last season, nobody could argue his performance helped the silly off-the-ice stuff go away.

So Bryzgalov took his moneybags and belongings to Las Vegas, presumably in an armored transport of some sort. There he joined the Wranglers hockey club in the ECHL, a minor league one step below the AHL, and began putting his career back together.

Frankly, it doesn’t sound like the situation got him down. In Saturday’s edition of the Daily News, Frank Seravalli recalls a story about who paid the bill when Bryzgalov took his new teammates out for breakfast one morning.

AFTER ILYA Bryzgalov signed a tryout agreement in October with the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers in attempt to make his way back to the NHL, he took his new teammates out to breakfast.

When the bill arrived, Bryzgalov picked up the tab.

"Don't worry, guys," Bryzgalov reportedly said. "This is courtesy of the Flyers."

Finally, in November, the goaltender-needy Oilers phoned Bryzgalov for help. Now he’s back, standing in the crease opposite his former mates.

Bryz has appeared in eight games so far for the last-place Oilers. He has a 2-4-0 record, .915 save percentage, and 2.80 goals against average. Last season in orange and black, he was 19-17 with a .900 SV% and 2.79 GAA.

The Flyers are better off, or at least the organization is happier for now with the modestly price duo of Steve Mason and Ray Emery in net. Plus, getting out from under a nine-year, $51 million commitment provided the front office much more flexibility.

But between the $16.5 million the Flyers paid over the first two years of the deal, the $23 million from the buyout and his future potential future earnings, Bryzgalov will likely wind up earning most of that money anyway, if not more. So no matter if he wins or loses, Bryz will always have the last laugh against Philadelphia.

Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens honored with Joe Bauman Award

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Photo courtesy of Donald Holohan

Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens honored with Joe Bauman Award

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Phillies prospect Dylan Cozens stopped by the winter meetings on Monday and left with a little something extra in his wallet.

Cozens was honored with the Joe Bauman Award, given annually to minor league baseball’s home run king. The award came with an $8,000 check -- $200 for each homer he hit in 2016.

“That will make shopping this holiday season a lot easier,” Cozens joked.

Cozens, a left-handed-hitting rightfielder, hit .276 with 40 home runs and 125 RBIs for the Double A Reading Fightin Phils. He was named Eastern League MVP. During his acceptance speech at Monday’s awards luncheon, Cozens thanked his Reading teammate, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, for pushing him to his power heights. Hoskins also had a huge season with the bat. He hit 38 homers and had 116 RBIs on his way to becoming the Eastern League’s Rookie of the Year. Night after night in Reading, Cozens and Hoskins staged a friendly power competition. At the end of the season, they shared the Paul Owens Award, given annually to the Phillies’ minor-league player of the year.
Cozens, 22, recently finished a 25-game hitch in the Dominican winter league. Despite hitting just .165 for the Aguilas club, he had four home runs – all against lefty pitching, which has been a nemesis.

Cozens, a 6-6, 250-pound behemoth, made some off-the-field news in the DR when he was involved in a pregame fight with teammate Boog Powell, a Seattle Mariners prospect. Cozens downplayed the incident.

“Just a little boys-being-boys type thing,” he said. “I feel like it was blown out of proportion like almost everything is these days. But, after it happened we became good friends. It was more the level of respect there and I’d say we’re still friends, so it’s good.”

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said the incident was in the past and would have no long-range ramifications for Cozens.

“There is no concern,” Klentak said. “Dylan is an intense kid and he plays the game really hard. That is a good thing. If you’ve watched that, you can see that in his at-bats and when he runs the bases and is running around in the outfield. That’s just his style of play. That aggressive nature at times can boil over. You hope that it doesn’t boil over into altercations with teammates. But we have no long-term concerns with that at all.”

Cozens was recently added to the 40-man roster and will be in big-league spring training camp. Though he projects to open the 2017 season at Triple A, he’s conceding nothing.

“I’m just going to go out there and try to get better, turn some heads and make people notice and hopefully get called up as soon as possible,” he said. 

Plate discipline and strike-zone management are the areas in which Cozens needs the most improvement. He struck out 186 times and walked 61 times in 134 games in 2016. Phillies officials would like to see the strikeouts come down.
 
“I’m learning how to take my walks more often, having better strike-zone judgment, maybe not chase after as many pitches,” Cozens said. “I want to be aggressive, but if they don’t want to pitch to me, just take a walk. I feel like I did not do a good job of that and it’s something I can improve on next year.”

Matt Read out approximately a month; Flyers recall Taylor Leier, send down Scott Laughton

Matt Read out approximately a month; Flyers recall Taylor Leier, send down Scott Laughton

Updated: 7 p.m.

Flyers winger Matt Read will miss approximately a month with an upper-body injury suffered in Sunday's 4-2 win over the Predators when he was checked by Filip Forsberg. Sources tell CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio the injury is an oblique muscle pull in Read's upper torso.

The 30-year-old has six goals and four assists for 10 points through 27 games. Five of those goals came in the Flyers' first five games.

To replace Read's roster spot, the Flyers recalled Taylor Leier and sent Scott Laughton to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. That likely means penalty-kill specialist Boyd Gordon (back), who is eligible to come off long-term injury reserve, will be activated.

Leier, 22, has been playing well with the Phantoms, posting six goals and 14 assists in 22 games (see Future Flyers Report). This is Leier's second stint of the season with the Flyers, albeit his first was short — one game on Oct. 25 in which he was a healthy scratch. He made his NHL debut last season and played six games.

Laughton was a healthy scratch the past five games.

If for some reason Gordon is not activated, the Flyers can call up another forward from Lehigh Valley. Jordan Weal is tied for second in the AHL with 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 20 games, while veteran winger Colin McDonald is an experienced, bottom-six option.