The Phoenix Coyotes are in rebuilding mode.
They have a young core with a handful of veterans.
What they have lacked is experience and leadership between the pipes. Since they let Nikolai Khabibulin slip away to Tampa Bay years ago, the Coyotes have been unable to find a stable presence in the crease.
Their search may be over.
With Ilya Bryzgalov now between the pipes in Phoenix, the Coyotes get a goalie with great reflexes and a solid demeanor. The 27-year-old Russian netminder will finally get an entire season as the number-one goaltender (barring any injuries), and can finally move out of Jean-Sebastien Giguere's shadow in Anaheim.
Brygalov is coming off of a season where he played 27 regular-season games, posting 10-8-6 record, along with a 2.47 GAA and a .907 save percentage.
The Coyotes' dismal place in the standings turned to their advantage when the Ducks decided to place Bryzgalov on waivers. With he young age, cheap salary (less then $1.4 million for 2007-08), and abundant talent, there was no doubt that someone would quickly claim him.
That someone was the Great One's Coyotes.
Neither Mikael Tellqvist nor Alex Auld could make the grade as the number-one goalie for the Coyotes, and the two will now battle for the back-up position. Auld's experience would seem to give him the edge over Tellqvist, but the decision could simply come down to contract.
The Anaheim Ducks have already called up Jonas Hiller to alleviate Bryzgalov's departure.
The Ducks' move is curious, as Bryzgalov never seemed to complain about being back-up. However, by placing Bryzgalove on waivers, the Ducks gain a little more breathing room under the salary—which may be needed soon, as Scott Neidermayer is getting set to return to the team.
The Coyotes plan to use Bryzgalov right away, and he will suit up for them tonight against the Kings.
In Bryzgalov's last game for the Ducks, he was shelled by Phoenix for four goals, and pullled before the end of the second period.