One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
June 9, 2011
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Late Tuesday afternoon, the Philadelphia Flyers made a move that shocked quite a few people, including myself, in acquiring free agent to be Ilya Bryzgalov. Anyone close to the Flyers knows what the team has been lacking the past few years has been elite goaltending and Philadelphia hopes to have solved their problem. The question is, at what cost?
Answer after the jump.
The first thing is Breezy (as he will be referred to as from here on out. Forever, I mean) has already stated that he commands not only top goalie money, but top player money. That means he expects to get paid like super stars Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk (the irony of them all being Russian and not doing squat in the playoffs isn’t lost on me guys, I’m a professional). While I’m sure the Flyers were aware of this before snagging the rights to the goaltender, I don’t think the reality will hit them until the last “i”‘s are dotted and “t”‘s crossed. Breezy has had a fine amount of success in the regular season, even getting nominated for the Vezina trophy during the ’09-’10 season. But his play in the “sport’s cliche” that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs is something to be scrutinized. His first trip to the second season in the ’06 playoffs was a mixed bag, starting strong (shutting out my beloved Avs two games in a row and sweeping them) and finishing limp (losing his starting role, in Anaheim forever) during the Semis verses the Oilers. Since, he played mop up duty during the Duck’s ’07 Cup run and has been quite lackluster during the Phoenix Coyotes two trips to the playoffs during his tenure.
Then there is the cap issue. While the salary cap roof is expected to be raised by somewhere between 3 or 4$ million next season, the Flyers would still need to move some players to fit comfortably under. (Nevermind the fact that that leaves any deadline deals out of the question next year.) While the word around the blogosphere is that the players to be moved will be guys like Matt Carle and Brayden Coburn, there is no reason to think someone like Jeff Carter is safe. Ville Leino is also a free agent this year, and god damn would he look good in the Burgandy and Blue.
So the real question isn’t whether the Flyers will be signing Breezy, but at what cost? It takes a lot of patience and trial by error to build a Stanley Cup contending team, like the one Philly had last year. But with players getting older, and some surely moving on to make room for this “elite” goaltender, you have to wonder if the Flyers aren’t effectively setting themselves 3 or 4 years back. Then again, it’s not like the Flyers have a history of trading for impending free agents and not signing them, am I right?