After weeks and even months of speculation, it has finally been confirmed: the Philadelphia Flyers have announced that they will buy out Ilya Bryzgalov less than one week after confirming their intent to buy out Danny Briere.
We can sit here for days and talk about Bryzgalov's antics and how they may or may not have been big distractions to the Flyers, but all that is officially behind them now.
I do want to take a second and acknowledge Briere for his tremendous contributions both to the Flyers organization and the Philadelphia community in general. He was a great leader on and off the ice and was a scrappy, clutch player who carried himself with class off the ice.
Unfortunately, the Bryzgalov situation will probably outshine his departure, but he deserves nothing but respect from Philadelphia fans. A great little article and the transcript of his farewell press conference (video here via flyers.nhl.com) can be found here, from Tim Panaccio of HockeyBuzz.
So how do the Flyers move on from here?
Most noticeably, Bryzgalov's departure leaves them short of an NHL-caliber goalie to compete with Steve Mason. Johnathan Bernier was thought of as a trade option, but Toronto outbid Philadelphia and Bernier is now a Maple Leaf.
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, both Ray Emery and Evgeni Nabokov are unrestricted free agents and could viable veteran options to come in and push Mason.
Dreger also mentioned that the Vancouver Canucks are still shopping around Roberto Luongo. But any talk of him being dealt to the Flyers is misguided, because Paul Holmgren will definitely not take on his massive contract just after shedding Bryzgalov's.
There is the option, however, of Luongo being bought out by the Canucks and then becoming a potential free-agent option for Philadelphia.
One possible trade option could be Buffalo's Ryan Miller, who is an unrestricted free agent next summer and could be moved now during rebuilding.
As far as the forward lines go, their top six forwards are pretty much set: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Matt Read, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn will play together on some combination of lines.
Now, especially with Briere's release, there will be plenty of room on that third line, which will likely be centered by Sean Couturier.
One potential target, according to Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer, is Blackhawks winger Viktor Stalberg, a big, fast pending UFA that would fit perfectly on the third line as long as he comes at a reasonable price.
Stalberg's teammate and fellow winger Bryan Bickell is also a pending UFA, and it's doubtful that Chicago will be able to re-sign both, so the Flyers may pursue the odd man out.
With the money freed up by the two buyouts, there are a couple bigger moves that may be in the works to boost the Flyers' talent.
The first would be to essentially upgrade Hartnell's spot on the first line and go after Bobby Ryan. He has been rumored to the Flyers in the past, and those have resurfaced in the past week, according to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly.
However, with Giroux, Read, Brayden Schenn and Couturier's contracts all ending next summer, they will need to allocate a good chunk of cap in order to keep them in Philly.
The buyouts help give the Flyers some much-needed cap flexibility, and rid them of a big distraction. But they still need to add talent across the board while still being smart financially and keeping their core together.
Stay tuned over the next few days until Sunday's draft, as new rumors will be surfacing daily and there will undoubtedly be some excitement at the actual draft.
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