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Welcome to the Flyers: Ilya Bryzgalov

The Flyers, notorious for their goaltending woes, have finally made a drastic move to stabilize their net presence. But before you can even begin an honest discussion about the new Flyers goalie, you have to get some talking points out of the way that seem to be looming over the crease like a bad storm waiting to erupt at the first sign of trouble. *Sigh*

Welcome to Negadelphia, goalie.

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In Philadelphia, the spotlight is always on the crease

The first one happens to be the most obvious: couldn’t the Flyers have gotten Vokoun for much cheaper had they waited? Probably. Even if it was for more than the $1.5M that he eventually signed for, you can safely assume he would have been cheaper. At the time, it was actually my personal preference to do just that. It would have given them more cap space for the rest of the roster while also allowing Bobrovsky to ease into a starting role down the line.

Alas, hindsight is always 20/20, and no one saw REALLY saw that turning out the way it did. The Flyers opted to go with the sure thing, likely assuming that the salary difference wouldn’t have been nearly as vast as it ultimately became.  Regardless, we’ll get into why I think this point is overblown in a second.

Another popular sentiment seems to be that the Flyers traded Richards and Carter to make room for Bryzgalov. Personally, I don’t see how that theory makes much sense. For the price of Versteeg and Zherdev you can practically have Bryzgalov in terms of cap hit. Also, you don’t change the entire foundation of your team for the sole purpose of bringing in a single free agent who makes half as much as the guys you shipped out.

You’d be hard pressed to find an example of this in the past, and I don’t see how or why the Flyers would start doing so now for a Russian goalie. Simply put, to trade Richards and Carter for Bryzgalov wouldn’t have been necessary. It all rests in how you as an individual rationalize the moves they made.

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets dive in. Who is Ilya Bryzgalov? I thought you’d never ask!

Ilya Bryzgalov is coming off a season in which he was voted the MVP of the Phoenix Coyotes by his teammates. The season before, Bryzgalov was one of the finalists for the Vezina Trophy – you know, that award given to the top goalie in the league. In the last 2 seasons combined, only Luongo has as many wins as he does. In that same 2-year span he also ranks in the top 10 in save percentage and goals against amongst starters. Don’t forget – he did this all as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, a team not exactly notorious for being a powerhouse. Clearly he can play.

Though those statistics alone might be enough to dub him a ‘stable’ presence in the net, a fantastic study done by Matthew Brigidi over at The Checking Line took it a step further by analyzing “quick-strike goals”. The result was an interesting correlation (albeit extremely raw) between the level of goaltending talent a team had and the amount of quick strike goals that team gave up. Near the bottom of the list was the Flyers. Near the top? Phoenix and Bryzgalov.

A well-chorused knock on him has been his lack of playoff success, but when the sample size as a starter is 11 games versus an overpowering Detroit team it becomes somewhat understandable. He definitely needs to prove himself in this area, but to say he isn’t a big game goalie is ignoring the fact that in the 2009 IIHF World Championships he carried a pristine 7-0 record on the way to earning a gold medal with Russia. In the biggest game of the tournament, Bryzgalov shut down the All-Star Canadian squad by stopping 37 of 38 shots while his team only managed 17 shots on goal – and won. Carrying all of Russia on his back, he rose to the challenge.

I know we like cheesesteaks, but can Philadelphia possibly be any heavier than the entire motherland in a matchup versus Canada for supremacy? I doubt it.

Some initial reports had him seeking over $7 million, but his contract ends up with a yearly cap hit of $5.6 million, placing him as the 5th highest paid goaltender and only 600K ahead of the 10th highest paid on the list. This is no bargain by any means, but it is also doesn’t seem like a vast overpayment given the rising nature of the cap. Plus, as I alluded to before, does his cap hit really matter as much as people think?

Here’s why: in the 2009-2010 season, the eventual Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks rode the coattails of rookie Antti Niemi all the way to glory. On the bench? Christobal Huet and his $5.25M contract. At the time, the cap was lower, making his salary all the more cumbersome to the Blackhawks front office. They STILL WON THE CUP with essentially $5.25M in lost cap space. In a completely hypothetical worst-case scenario, what’s stopping the Flyers from achieving similar success if that happens to them? Nothing.

We all like to play armchair GM, but don’t get too caught up in the financial numbers and trade politics. The Flyers have finally made a move for a good, capable goalie. Lets give him a chance to prove himself before we run him out of town – you just might be surprised with the results.


Continue the discussion with me on twitter (@marcs797), email (theobbreakdown@gmail.com), or in the comments below



Lets Go Flyers!

Filed in: NHL Teams, Philadelphia Flyers, Marc Siciliano, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ilya+bryzgalov

Comments

Primis's avatar

I just really don’t get how Detroit managed to win 2 Cups with Chris Osgood in net, but Philly fans still seem determined that you need an Elite-level goalie to win a Cup.

You don’t.  You need a decent goalie that’s a good fit with the team, a very good defense, and a set of forwards who can manage to control play in a variety of situations.

What will the excuse be when Brygalov fails?  At a certain point, the Blame The Goalie routine will run out of excuses, and someone will have to take a serious look at the rest of the roster.  And by then it’ll be too late…

Posted by Primis on 08/13/11 at 01:52 AM ET

petshark's avatar

I was wildly averse to the Flyers signing Bryz not because he isn’t a very good goalie.  I expect he will get off to a great start especially being in a new conference.

While I don’t “blame” his arrival for the departure of other players, I am always against getting the highest priced anything.  I also would have preferred Vokoun or Nabokov, not only for price but also because they would have allowed more room (ice time) for Bob to develop.

Now I wish they’d just send Bob down and leave him there for the season. Seems like such a waste for him to spend most of the season not playing.  Bryz is used to playing a LOT and he’s still young so there’s no reason for him to stop doing that.

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 08/13/11 at 02:23 AM ET

Marc Siciliano's avatar

Now I wish they’d just send Bob down and leave him there for the season. Seems like such a waste for him to spend most of the season not playing.  Bryz is used to playing a LOT and he’s still young so there’s no reason for him to stop doing that.

Bob can’t be sent down without being exposed to waivers… I would love to see him get some playing time regardless of what Bryz is used to. It can only help down the line for both guys…

Posted by Marc Siciliano on 08/13/11 at 04:02 AM ET

Marc Siciliano's avatar

I just really don’t get how Detroit managed to win 2 Cups with Chris Osgood in net, but Philly fans still seem determined that you need an Elite-level goalie to win a Cup.

You don’t.  You need a decent goalie that’s a good fit with the team, a very good defense, and a set of forwards who can manage to control play in a variety of situations.

What will the excuse be when Brygalov fails?  At a certain point, the Blame The Goalie routine will run out of excuses, and someone will have to take a serious look at the rest of the roster.  And by then it’ll be too late…

What will the excuse be when bryz fails you ask? Well, I ask you why he that is a when and not an if - what’s your basis of guaranteed failure?

The blame the goalie routine was definitely in effect last season, but the roster has already been drastically adjusted according to the lack of success

Posted by Marc Siciliano on 08/13/11 at 04:06 AM ET

petshark's avatar

Marc, I am pretty sure Bob can be sent down if it’s more than 12 days before the season starts, without being subject to waivers, regardless of how many games, age, etc.  He just couldn’t be called back up later.  I think Art 13.2 of the CBA is where it says this.  Same for call-ups.

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 08/13/11 at 01:01 PM ET

Marc Siciliano's avatar

I wish that were the case….

“..because Bobrovsky played 60 games in his rookie season, including playoffs, the second-year goalie is no longer waiver exempt. This means that whether he begins next season in the AHL or with the big club, Bobrovsky would be subject to waivers should the Flyers need to move him up or down, limiting their options.”

http://phillysportsdaily.com/flyers/2011/06/13/bright-bobrovsky-would-give-flyers-stellar-plan-b/

Posted by Marc Siciliano on 08/13/11 at 02:30 PM ET

petshark's avatar

Right, if he went down before the season (and only before) he would have to stay there, but he wouldn’t be subject to waivers this summer.  I think that’s what Bright means by “whether he begins the season in the AHL…”  He just can’t be moved once the season starts (or less than 12 days prior). 

So, practically speaking, they can’t send him to the AHL unless they are absolutely certain they can do without him until next summer.  The only reason to do it would be out of loyalty to his development, which is too sentimental for pro sports.

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 08/14/11 at 01:03 AM ET

Avatar

Repoters are morons. EVERYONE in Philly knows Carter and Richards were traded because all they cared about was partying and they were cancer in the locker room. This should be common knowledge by now.

Posted by Crosby Sucks from philly on 08/15/11 at 10:45 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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