The Philadelphia Flyers made the first splash of the off-season, acquiring the negotiating rights of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov on June 7 from the Phoenix Coyotes.
The move was praised by fans as the team followed through on its commitment to acquire a top notch goaltender. The Flyers goaltender situation can be described nothing less than a merry-go-round of players between the pipes the last 15 years. But this could change if the Flyers are able to successfully sign Bryzgalov, who was nothing short of spectacular during his time in Phoenix.
The Flyers brass and Bryzgalov finally met this week to start negotiating but were unable to come to terms on a contract. Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren issued a statement and said that both sides talked and will meet again next week. Bryzgalov’s agent stated he would not comment to the media at all during the talks. Bryzgalov is rumored to want a five or six-year deal worth around $6 million per season.
Some are skeptical of the Flyers ability to get a deal done due to their salary cap situation. Even though the cap is expected to rise $3 million this season, the Flyers will most likely have to make some sort of player transaction if they wish to sign the Russian netminder.
One rumored deal was Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek and the eighth pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, but this was adamantly denied by the Flyers. The players most likely to be moved are defenseman Matt Carle ($3.4 million) and forward Kris Versteeg ($3 million).
Flyers fans will be on edge during these negotiations as they have seen this situation fall through recently. Last year, Philadelphia traded for the rights of defenseman Dan Hamhuis and were unable to sign him.
The Flyers have until July 1 to sign Bryzgalov or he will be free to negotiate and sign with any other team as a UFA.
Holmgren and the Flyers will feel pressure to get this deal done in any way possible. The fan base has been frustrated far too long with the situation in net and ownership is finally fed up too. A once promising season was cut short in the playoffs due to a disappointing performance in net . The Flyers started three goaltenders over the course of 11 playoff games and the starter was pulled in six of them.
If there is a reason to be optimistic that a deal can be done, it comes from the comments of Bryzgalov himself. The goaltender has praised the city of Philadelphia and its fans after the trade.
“Philadelphia is a great city, a great organization, and a great team with a rich history,” Bryzgalov said. “I would love very much to be a part of the team that brings the Stanley Cup back to Philadelphia.”
Bryzgalov also opened a Twitter account on June 17 and has tweeted back to several Flyers fans, thanking them for their support. Bryzgalov seems to be embracing the support from the fans and enjoying the city itself.
It’s clear that Bryzgalov wants to be a part of the Flyers’ future, but will the two sides be able to come to some sort of terms?
Come July 1, the Flyers will either have their goaltender problems solved or will hop right back on the goalie carousel they have ridden for the past 15 years. Stay tuned.