The Philadelphia Flyers utilized their second of two compliance contract buyouts on Tuesday on veteran goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Anthony SanFilippo reported the news on the Flyers' official website, and the 33-year-old goaltender is set to hit free agency this offseason. General manager Paul Holmgren elaborated on the decision to let Bryzgalov go:
I met with Ilya this morning and informed him that we are going to exercise a compliance buyout of his contract. This was a very difficult business decision to make for us and we want to thank Ilya for his time here and wish him all the best moving forward.
That sounds respectful enough toward Bryzgalov, but one media member in particular paints a behind-the-scenes picture that suggests this move was inevitable—even apart from Bryzgalov's on-ice performance.
Randy Miller of the Courier Post attempted to reach Bryzgalov by phone after this development of his impending departure, but was hung up on.
That led to a rather unfortunate indictment that may hurt Bryzgalov's reputation and market value as he seeks to find a new team—especially in light of alleged disputes with head coach Peter Laviolette:
As the report by SanFilippo outlines, the Russian netminder had signed a nine-year, $51 million contract ahead of the 2011-12 season after an impressive stint with the Phoenix Coyotes.
In his second-to-last year in Phoenix, Bryzgalov had finished runner-up for the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL's top goalie in a given season. However, he didn't quite live up to the lucrative deal, and thus Philadelphia decided to not bring him back.
Bryzgalov finished this past year with a 19-17 record and three overtime losses, registering a goals-against average of 2.79—the second highest of his entire career—and a career-low .900 save percentage.
According to spotrac.com, veteran goaltender Brian Boucher is an unrestricted free agent, so it's feasible that former Columbus Blue Jacket and 2008-09 Rookie of the Year Steve Mason could get a shot at being the Flyers' future between the pipes.
The Flyers will save $5.667 million in each of the next seven years thanks to the buyout, paying Bryzgalov roughly $1.643 million over the next 14 years. That adds up to $23 million total—two-thirds of what is left on the remainder of his contract, according to SanFilippo.