Paul Holmgren finally saw the elephant standing in the middle of the room.
More to the point, Paul Holmgren finally DID something about the elephant standing in the middle of the room.
The Flyers GM admitted what the rest of the hockey world has known for going on three seasons today when he traded a handful of trinkets to the Phoenix Coyotes for veteran goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. In doing so Holmgren bought himself some time to see up close what a potential world-class goaltender costs and how he might be able to wedge that price tag into a closet already jammed full of big-time contracts.
Stories out of the desert indicated that Bryzgalov wanted something on the order of $5 million a season, a price that was too rich for the barely alive Coyotes. Maybe that price was to scare away a team that the Russian didn't want to be part of anymore, and maybe the 30-year-old wants to cash in before he's too old to compete at the top of the goaltending heap or the next CBA throttles back salaries that are once again headed out of control.
Ilya Bryzgalov would be a godsend for the Flyers. He would be the last piece of the puzzle at the last possible second that might allow the Flyers to finally end the curse of Broad Street and savor the Cup again.
But Flyer fans need to understand that the cost might turn out to be too much. Surely paying a top-line goaltender would end the longstanding practice of signing muggers and thuggers like Jody Shelley and Dan Carcillo. That needed to happen even if the rights to the right goaltender weren't at stake, but old habits die hard. The worst of those habits die the hardest.
Further, a team standing already at $59 million against the cap already would have to do some serious cleaning to get to where it needs to be. As much as the rumors indicate otherwise, that something won't be Jeff Carter. Nobody wants an 11-year contract hanging around their neck in the last year of a CBA.
No, the Flyers are going to have to do something that hurts. They are going to have to rip two and maybe three big pieces out of their core to make a big netminder fit.
Goodbye Daniel Briere? See ya Ville Leino? Hasta la vista Mike Richards? Yep, and maybe all of them all at once to make this move.
Understand this too: The clock is running on the Flyers, and fast. Chris Pronger is past his prime and showing signs of severe wear. The heart and soul of this roster is in its mid 20s and doesn't have another three or four seasons of taking their lumps in the playoffs until Sergei Bobrovsky matures into a dependable goaltender. The future is now, and Ilya Bryzgalov is the answer.
The question is, will the Flyers do what they've never done in order to get what they haven't gotten in 36 years?