GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 29: Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Phoenix Coyotes makes a glove save on the shot from the Dallas Stars during the first period of the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on March 29, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Acquiring Ilya Bryzgalov alone is a good thing. But everything that has to be done in order to afford Bryzgalov is not yet known. Until that time, skepticism reigns.
When the Flyers traded for the rights to pending unrestricted free agent Ilya Bryzgalov, many Flyers fans rejoiced. Bryzgalov has been the Phoenix Coyotes starting goaltender for three plus seasons after being claimed off waivers from Anaheim, leading them to the playoffs in each of the last two. Remembering Flyers teams led by the likes of Robert Esche, Garth Snow, and Dominic Roussel, Ilya Bryzgalov gives fans hope of ending the string of average goaltenders who played for the Flyers.
The problem is that in today's NHL, teams can't just throw money around. The salary cap forces teams to allocate their resources in a budgeted manner. This is something the Flyers are not used to, as every year since the cap was instituted, the team has been so close to the cap that they have had to give up assets for pennies on the dollar just to comply. From Ossi Vaananen to Randy Jones to Simon Gagne, the team has a lengthy list of cap casualties.
This summer is shaping up to be more of the same. With the extensions given to Jeff Carter and Claude GIroux, as well as the acquisition of Kris Versteeg, the Flyers added nearly $6 million to next year's cap in the last year. If the team were to add Ilya Bryzgalov, they will need to either keep his cap hit very low (think at or below his current $4.25 mil cap hit), or move multiple people.
Even with the $64 million cap, the Flyers won't be able to keep Carle, Versteeg, Hartnell, and Carter. Simply not re-signing Ville Leino is not enough, as the team will be one million over the cap. Even if the team trades Kris Versteeg, they will have roughly $1.8 million in cap space. Maybe this allows for the Flyers to add Maxime Talbot, but they still are unable to re-sign Leino.
What does this all mean? The Flyers will have at least two cap casualties this summer, as they are unable to sign Bryzgalov without trading at least one roster player and letting Ville Leino walk. The cap going up $4.6 million absolutely makes the acquisition more favorable, as it makes the cap casualties less painful, but it does not alleviate the cap crunch.
Does Ilya Bryzgalov make the Flyers better? Yes. But the question isn't whether Bryzgalov makes the Flyers better, it's whether the moves made to acquire Bryzgalov make the Flyers better. There are many situations where the answer to that question is yes, but it depends on who is traded and what is acquired in return. It also depends on the length and cap hit of Bryzgalov's contract.
So while there are many people ecstatic at the thought of Ilya Bryzgalov in the Flyers' crease at the start of the season, there are many people worried about just how much that would cost. Until everything settles in and we know just what the Flyers lost in order to acquire Bryzgalov, the skeptics will remain skeptical. Add me in that group.