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Panotch: Flyers Considering Buyout for Bryzgalov – Should They?

Jun 14, 2013, 4:59 PM EDT

bryz-dont-be-mad

There has been talk of using a compliance buyout on Ilya’s Bryzgalov since the term entered the NHL lexicon. According to Tim Panaccio’s sources, that option may be close to becoming a reality.

According to a report filed by Panotch on Friday, the Flyers’ are indeed weighing whether or not to use the amnesty clause on Bryz this summer. Ed Snider had previously endorsed the controversial netminder, but when asked for comment on this story, the club chairman simply replied, “Ask Paul [Holmgren].”

Bryzgalov, who turns 33 this month, is coming off of his worst season in the NHL, posting a .900 save percentage and 2.79 goals against average. While porous defense in front of Bryz was partly to blame for the awful numbers in 2013, critics feel his play was a big part of the problem as well, and he has been generally lackluster since arriving two years ago.

While the Flyers would still owe in excess of $22 million on his contract, the team would save $5.67 million per year over the next seven against the salary cap with the buyout.

Of course, a sizable chunk of that money would wind up going right back into paying another goaltender to replace Bryz. According to Panotch, the front office could target either the Niklas Backstrom, unrestricted free agent from the Wild, or LA Kings backup and restricted FA Jonathan Bernier.

Backstrom, 35, was earning $6 million per year on his expiring deal. They could trade for his rights and try to sign him to a contract before he hits the market, just as they did with Mark Streit. It’s unclear whether he solves the Flyers’ problems though, other than allowing the franchise to get out from under Bryzgalov’s enormous contract. Backstrom is on the downside of his career, and unless he’s available at a significant discount, that seems like throwing good money after bad.

The Wild have expressed an interest in retaining Backstrom, who likewise admitted he hopes to stay in Minnesota, perhaps taking that possibility off the table.

If the Flyers went after Bernier, they might have to strike a deal with the Kings. Panotch suggests a package of Matt Read and more might land Jonathan Quick’s understudy, and the soon-to-be-25-year-old could be in line for a contract commensurate of a starter. Bernier has posted solid numbers in 62 career NHL games, going 29-20-6 with a .912 SV% and 2.36 GAA.

Los Angeles will certainly listen to suitors, but the price in both trade and contract could be steep for a player who’s never had to hold down a starting job. Meanwhile, the intriguing Steve Mason (25) is already on the Flyers’ roster, and 2012 second-round pick Anthony Stolarz (19) has been tearing it up in the OHL. Trading quality players and/or prospects and making a long-term commitment to a somewhat unproven goalie may not be the wisest strategy right this moment.

One reason Panotch gave for the possible change of heart among Flyers’ brass is a growing belief Bryz may want out. He doesn’t have the full support of his teammates, frequently battles the local media, and recently made comments in Russia that garnered negative attention back in Philly.

Of course, why wouldn’t Bryzgalov want his contract bought out? He’s a competitor, so he’d presumably welcome the opportunity to finish what he started here, but if the Flyers go for amnesty, he’ll still see two-thirds of the money from his current contract, plus have the freedom to go out and collect a second paycheck somewhere else.

A final decision has yet to be reached, but until Holmgren says otherwise, we are being led to believe the organization is actually considering this. If Bryz’s presence is really viewed as being that destructive, then it makes perfect sense.

If it’s just a play to save a couple million against the cap while attempting to improve the situation in goal, they might be better served by waiting. The Flyers can get another year out of Bryzgalov and see whether or not he returns to form, then use a buyout next year if they like. In turn, that would give them more time to evaluate Mason and develop Stolarz without getting locked into a contract with another goalie.

What the Flyerrs will decide is anybody’s guess at this point. One league executive told Panoccio he would not be surprised either way. Will you?

>> Sources: Flyers considering buyout for Bryzgalov [CSN]

  1. Negativo - Jun 14, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Any word if they’re considering Hartnell? Even just mulling it over?

    Reply
    • Andrew Kulp - Jun 14, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      No. Danny Briere is pretty much a given at this point, and if they don’t amnesty Bryz this year, I imagine they will keep that in their pocket for next year. Also, they just signed Hartnell to that extension last summer. I understand he had a down year (although he got injured, may have come back too early), but I don’t think half of a shortened season was enough to sour anybody in the organization that much on him.

      Reply
      • Saint Pete - Jun 14, 2013 at 7:04 PM

        Word is Briere’s salary with be flipped to Giroux who’s expected to command around $8M in his negotiations. Bryz’s money would go to free agents like Streit and more.

      • Andrew Kulp - Jun 14, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        Giroux’s extension won’t start until next season, so they wouldn’t need that extra cap space created by any buyouts until then.

  2. craig - Jun 14, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    For as much as I agree, Im thinking maybe its not worth it on Briere…. I mean he only has this season and next, and isn’t the purpose of the buyout to get out from killer contracts?… Im sure if we look at this roster theres certainly someone worth using it on!!lol

    Reply
    • Andrew Kulp - Jun 14, 2013 at 6:56 PM

      At this point Briere’s contract is a killer. His $6.5 mil is the biggest cap hit on the team, and the production simply isn’t there to back it up over the last two seasons — in fact, he’s been pretty abysmal. He’ll be 36 when the season starts and has been injured a bunch lately, so it’s not likely to improve much. They can sign two players for that amount of money who combined could do far more than Briere can at this stage of his career, if not by themselves.

      Reply
      • BenE. - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:05 PM

        Yep, Briere is definitely the primary target for the buyout. I feel bad for him since he has anchored his family here and I know he really likes the area, but it’s still a business, and he will find another team that needs a complementary scoring center who can also play on the power play.

        As for Bryzgalov, the answer for me is a definitive YES, the Flyers should absolutely drop the ax on Bryz, no questions asked. Kulp, I know you disagree with me that it should be a sure thing, as we’ve discussed in the past. In my opinion though, the Flyers just can’t justify paying Bryz top dollar to be the 50th best goalie in league, which he has been since he got here. Perhaps Mason won’t win the Vezina next season, but he won’t be making $6 million either. Let’s go Mason!

      • hitnrun - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:47 PM

        Agreed with BenE. The Flyers have had an extraordinarily long string of good-but-not-good-enough goalies before Bryzgalov. There’s no reason to think they need to pay an exorbitant salary to continue to that dubious streak.

  3. somekat - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Unless there is a specific target they have in mind for the money, I see no reason not to keep Briere and Bryz for another year. I haven’t really taken a good look at the FA market, but why drop either of them before you have a deal in place for a player that will help to replace them?

    Who knows, maybe after this year, with just one year left, Briere’s contract won’t look as bad with only one year left and knowning you’ll have the space the next year. Bryz would still be a candidate, but then you could use that other amnesty somewhere else.

    As a Flyers fan, I like the idea that they retool, they don’t rebuild, as much as anyone. But I think next year they may have to take a step back to take a few forward. In a perfect world, I’d amnesty Bryz this year, and use that money to extend the 3 young C’s this year when it will hopefully be cheaper. Move Meszaros (sp?) for whatever you can get and let Gust take his spot. Then next year look at giving the amnesty to Briere if there is someone you want, or maybe another guy if you don’t need that much, and have Briere come off the next year. Obviously, if they can get a top flight PF or D this year and need that money, that would change things, but I just don’t see that guy available this year (B Ryan maybe?)

    Reply
  4. Mike Dusak - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    They have to amnesty both if they want to not only get under the cap, but to have room to make improvements/adjustments to the roster (i.e. Streit, another goalie or whatnot). The roughly $13 million covers the drop in cap dollars next year without losing too much production. Let’s face it, Danny was invisible last year and Bryz was average at best. You can find other, cheaper guys to do the same exact job at 1/3 of the price and not lose anything

    Reply
  5. Mostel - Jun 15, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    I’d hold off a year on Bryz while you evaluate what you actually have in Mason. If you have them split starts in 2013-14, have Stolarz play with the Phantoms in 2013-14, amnesty Bryz for 2014-15, re-sign Mason to a continued low money deal, and have Stoalrz back up Mason for 2014-15 and 2015-16 until he’s ready to be our all-star level goalie starter…………………..it’ll all be good.

    But I don’t see them improving the goaltending situation by amnestying Bryz now.

    Reply
    • MrDioji - Jun 15, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      I completely agree. I don’t think the goaltending answer is out there right now. I definitely don’t want to trade a too-long too-expensive contract on a proven goaltender (Bryz) for a too-long too-expensive contract on a relatively unproven goaltender (Bernier). Let Bryz push Mason this year and see what happens, then buy him out next year if he doesn’t absolutely wow us.

      Briere should be bought out this year.

      Reply
  6. Granida Benjamin - Jun 15, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    If only we could find a goaltender who could post numbers like this:
    21-11 .932 2.00

    Oh wait….

    Reply
  7. OneManWolfpack - Jun 16, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Bryz is not a competitor… as Panaccio writes. He will not win us a Cup. Please amnesty him. I really can’t believe this is even up for discussion.

    Reply
  8. Beardy - Jun 16, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Yeah, lets go ahead and jettison the goaltender, because obviously thats the problem.

    Not like we’ve recently done that only to see the jettisoned goalie win the Vezina less than 12 months later… oh… wait…

    Fix this defense. That has been and will continue to be the main problem until its addressed.

    Reply
  9. hatter12 - Jun 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    Bryz was a product of good coaching PHX and obviously that has not translated here. That being said, he did not get much help last season but unless there is a target in mind, you have to wait and see what you have with Mason et al until next year. You can evaluate then and make the decision that I thnk is more than likely to happen – buy him out. But it’s still just a decision that’s bad business to make now. As for getting under the cap – see ya later Danny B.

    Reply

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