Is the End Near for Ilya Bryzgalov in Philly?

First off, let me start by saying this isn’t an article to rip on Bryzgalov or the Flyers, so anyone thinking I’m just some Flyers bashing Ranger fan, relax! Now that that’s out of the way, could the end be near for Bryzgalov as a Flyer? That idea seemed like a possibility when the Flyers acquired Columbus goalie Steve Mason (who ironically was backup to Sergei Bobrovsky, the former Flyers backup now coming into his own as a great goalie).

Back in 2011, the Flyers signed Bryzgalov to a nine year, 51 million dollar contract. Flyers fans were ecstatic  as Bryz looked good in the playoffs with the Coyotes and many thought this deal meant that the Flyers carousel of goalies was finally about to end. Bryz won over many fans (including myself) last year with his humor and likability on HBO’s hit show, 24/7. But between talking about bears, french poodles and the universe, Bryz played some average games for the Flyers, and when you get paid like Bryz does, average isn’t good enough.

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Currently, the Flyers are struggling, sitting in 11th place but only four points out of 8th place, so the team can make a run and still reach the playoffs. Now, the big question is who will be in net. The Flyers will look to give Steve Mason a chance, as Bryz has played a lot of games in a row now and should get a rest. The team also wants to see what it has in Mason, as he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year. I feel that many Flyers fans are torn on Bryzgalov. Many love him for his personality, but others get frustrated by his inconsistent play. This isn’t to say Bryzgalov is bad, and many Flyers fans I talk to point out that he has been pretty good for this year. Any hockey fan can see where the struggles lie, and that with the teams defensive play. The team made a big trade for defenseman Luke Schenn last year (and desperately tried to get Shea Weber), but the defense still has looked slow, unsure of itself and sloppy, leaving Bryz hanging on many occasions.  Currently his record is 16-14-3 with a 2.82 GAA and a .899 save percentage. Those aren’t bad numbers at all, but again, when you are making close to 6 million dollars this year, and were bought in to be the franchise’s savior in net, well you have a bit of a problem.

With the NHL’s salary cap getting lowered to 64 million next year, many teams are going to be scrambling to shed salary. The Flyers are already facing a dilemma with forward Danny Briere stating publicly that he wouldn’t waive his no-movement clause to go to any team, regardless of the situation. That is a $6,500,000 million cap hit this year, and next year is the same at $6,500,000 million, according to capgeek.com. Not only can’t the Flyers move Briere to another team, but they even have to ask him for his permission to just to get sent to the minors! So the team is stuck and as of now, the Flyers only have a little bit over 2 million in cap space for next year! There are a few free agents I’m sure the Flyers would like to sign back too, such as Simon Gagne, Kurtis Foster, Erik Gustafsson, Zac Rinaldo and Ruslan Fedotenko. But with the cap getting lowered, many will probably have to walk unless Paul Holmgren can make some big changes and reshape the roster.

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That is where a buyout of Bryzgalov would work. Bryz has a cap hit of $5,666,667 until the 2019-20 season! Be honest Flyers fans, do you want to see your team pay all that money for that long to a guy who plays good, but not amazing like you thought he would?Over the next six seasons, Bryz will be owed a total of $34.7 million! The new amnesty rules introduced with the new CBA have it so that any buyout will be paid twice over the remaining term. So in this case, the Flyers would be dishing out 23 million over 14 years. That is a long time and a whole lot of money for the Flyers to pay, but if they decided to do so, Bryzs’ cap hit would disappear and he would be free to sign anywhere.

So in my opinion, I would amnesty Bryzgalov. Some fans seem to be tired of him, and maybe even some players and front office people in the Flyers organization of tired of his antics as well. Bryz has truly had some head scratching moments, on and off the ice. The front office didn’t seem so inclined to have Bryzgalov’s back either. After the Flyers traded for Mason, read what Holmgrens  statement on the trade was…

“We see [Mason] as one of our two goalies, not only the rest of this year, but moving forward. We’ll just leave it at that for now.”

That doesn’t give Bryz any votes of confidence at all! Maybe having little confidence and worrying about his job security is why he ducked out of the way of a shot last night!

To Bryzs’ credit, the team came back and ended up winning the game 5-3, but I’ve never seen a goalie, whose job it is to get in front of pucks and stop them, would duck down like that. A truly funny, memorable play, one I have never seen before. Bryz is a good goalie and seems like an even better person, but Philly is paying A LOT for results on the ice, and if the Flyers want some salary cap relief, they should amnesty Bryz this summer.

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That’s Bryz’s wife?!

BUYOUT DETAILS according to Capgeek.com for Bryzgalov

SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2013-14 $8,000,000 $5,666,667 $1,642,857 $6,357,143 -$690,476
2014-15 $6,000,000 $5,666,667 $1,642,857 $4,357,143 $1,309,524
2015-16 $6,000,000 $5,666,667 $1,642,857 $4,357,143 $1,309,524
2016-17 $5,500,000 $5,666,667 $1,642,857 $3,857,143 $1,809,524
2017-18 $5,500,000 $5,666,667 $1,642,857 $3,857,143 $1,809,524
2018-19 $2,250,000 $5,666,667 $1,642,857 $607,143 $5,059,524
2019-20 $1,250,000 $5,666,667 $1,642,857 -$392,857 $6,059,524
2020-21 $0 $0 $1,642,857 -$1,642,857 $1,642,857
2021-22 $0 $0 $1,642,857 -$1,642,857 $1,642,857
2022-23 $0 $0 $1,642,857 -$1,642,857 $1,642,857
2023-24 $0 $0 $1,642,857 -$1,642,857 $1,642,857
2024-25 $0 $0 $1,642,857 -$1,642,857 $1,642,857
2025-26 $0 $0 $1,642,857 -$1,642,857 $1,642,857
2026-27 $0 $0 $1,642,857 -$1,642,857 $1,642,857
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