Reasons Ilya Bryzgalov Needs to Be Traded from the Philadelphia Flyers
Bryzgalov had put up stellar numbers in Phoenix in prior seasons, and was one of the top free agents of the 2011 free-agency period.
What the Flyers got, however, was not exactly what they expected.
Bryzgalov's play was inconsistent throughout the entire season. At times, he showed signs of the player the Flyers hoped they had signed playing spectacularly, but at others, Bryzgalov showed a much more problematic side to his game.
With all signs pointing towards the NHL season starting sometime in the near future, the Flyers will look to build on the positives of last season's playoff run.
Despite not being able to bolster their defensive corp as they had hoped to, the Flyers now hope that a young, energetic roster featuring some of the league's top new players (Giroux, Couturier, Read, Hartnell) can carry them to the Stanley Cup Finals once again.
Even though the massive contract signed by Bryzgalov contains a no-movement clause, the Flyers have to find a team that a) wants to take on Bryzgalov and b) Bryzgalov would approve a trade to.
The chances of both of those occurring seem to decrease every time Bryzgalov touches the ice, or even opens his mouth (see HBO's 24/7), but the Flyers still need to try.
In order for the Flyers to be a successful team this season and for years to come, they must get rid of Bryzgalov. Here's a look at four reasons that the Philadelphia Flyers need to find a way around his no-movement clause and trade Ilya Bryzgalov.
While Bryzgalov's stats for the 2011-2012 season were not terrible (.909 SV%, 2.48 GAA), Bryzgalov often had stretches of games where he would have a GAA of over 8.00.
When the Flyers signed Bryzgalov to the big contract, they hoped that his erratic play would cease with a stronger team in front of him.
Consistent play never arrived, and the Flyers found themselves putting their faith in backup Sergei Bobrovsky almost as often as they did in Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov's inconsistent play dragged over into the NHL playoffs.
The playoffs have never been the Russian goaltender's strongest time of year. Last season, from the regular season to the playoffs, Bryzgalov's GAA went up by almost an entire goal, while his SV-percentage dropped from .909 to .887. While the difference between the two numbers may not seem to be very much, it is a big jump for any goaltender.
With the Flyers unable to to land a top defenseman in free agency, and captain Chris Pronger not likely to play anytime soon, if ever again, a solid goaltender on whom the Flyers can rely in night-in and night-out is a must.
In order for teams around the NHL to be competitive year-round they must be able to trust their goaltender to show up.
The Flyers have the offensive talent to win games by scoring six or more goals, but if they want to be a premier team, they need to have a consistent goaltender.
Over the course of the next few seasons, the Flyers will have to renegotiate contracts with several key players in the Flyers' playoff run, such as Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Kimmo Timonen.
If the Flyers wish to keep the core of their team together as these contracts expire, they will need to dump some salaries to make room.
Giroux, who has become widely regarded as one of the top players in the league, will be a RFA, but he will also undoubtedly get a very large payday. Keeping Couturier, and Read will come at a cost, too, as the two budding stars are both players who would draw great interest on the trading block.
When the Flyers signed Bryzgalov, they had to unload Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in order to have the cap room to keep the team together.
In case you missed it, Carter and Richards went on to win a Stanley Cup in L.A. this season. Even though cap room was not the entire reason Carter and Richards were shipped out of Philly, the Flyers do not want to be forced into losing anymore star players.
Flyer fans may wonder how Bryzgalov's contract is hurting the Flyers, when they were able to offer Shea Weber an extremely big contract. If Weber had signed with Philly, an offloading of several players would have been required.
In the long run, the Flyers will do themselves a favor if they are able to get rid of Bryzgalov's contract. It would allow them to keep their young stars, as well as make a run at some top defenseman either at this season's trade deadline or in free agency
The Universe Is "Humungous Big"
Leading up to the 2012 NHL Winter Classic, Bryzgalov showed his bizarre side to the entire world.
Bryzgalov's rant about the universe on HBO's 24/7 became a popular topic of discussion among hockey fans and media everywhere.
But this is not the first time Bryzgalov has made head-scratching comments.
Bryzgalov has often made comments about his play. He has told the media, amongst other things, that his head just is not in the game. Or he is not playing well and doesn't give his team a good chance to win.
Anytime a goaltender makes comments like the ones Bryzgalov has been known to make, his team's faith in him falters. When a team does not trust it's backstop, that team will not be successful in the long run.
While all goaltenders are a little quirky, Bryzgalov has taken the odd-goaltender stereotype to an entirely new level.
Weird is not always a bad thing, but brutally honest to the point of causing your teammates to distrust you is another monster entirely. Bryzgalov is critical of himself to a point that it damages his play.
Besides, the universe is "humungous big" so there must be somebody else who wants to deal with Bryzgalov and his contract, right?
Michael Leighton Has Proved He Can Play, so Why Not Let Him?
When the Flyers made their run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Michael Leighton took advantage of injuries and played his way into the lineup.
Despite struggling at times during the Finals, Leighton looked strong throughout the playoffs posting several shutouts along the way.
As the summer of 2010 rolled around and Leighton's contract expired, the Flyers made sure to re-sign the playoff star. The Flyers were hoping that Leighton would be a solid No. 1 goaltender that they could rely on.
However, surgery during the summer pushed back Leighton's reentry into the Philadelphia lineup. By the time Leighton was ready to play again, Brian Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky (both gone now) were both playing good hockey and had entered into a competition for the Flyers' starting job.
Leighton tried to make his way back into the Flyers lineup, but he was unfortunate enough to be competing against two hot goaltenders who had been playing all season. In the end, Leighton was sent down to play in the AHL for the Flyers' affiliate.
Since being sent down through waivers, Leighton has put up good numbers playing for the Adirondack Phantoms, but the entrance of Bryzgalov into Philly stopped Leighton from getting another shot. With Bobrovsky gone, Leighton is slated to backup Bryzgalov this season.
The Flyers have a legitimate starting goaltender option in Michael Leighton, if only they are able to ship away Bryzgalov.