The Flyers pulled off a trade today for Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. However, in something that is unique to the NHL, the trade was for a player whose contract has essentially expired. Bryzgalov will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, which means all the Flyers got in this trade were exclusive rights to negotiate with the goalie for the next few weeks.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren says they will try to work out a deal before Bryzgalov becomes a free agent.
"We're going to give it our best shot. Obviously we gave up an asset to get a chance to get in early so we have every intention of trying our best to get a deal done."
Of course, if you followed the Flyers' activities last offseason that quote might sound familiar. Last year, the Flyers traded Ryan Parent to Nashville for the rights to negotiate with defenseman Dan Hamhuis. If you've been watching the Stanley Cup Finals, you may have noticed Hamhuis wearing a Vancouver Canucks jersey. Back when the Flyers had him for a couple weeks, this is what Holmgren had to say.
"Obviously, our intention is to get him signed prior to that date, and that is what our aim is at this point," said Holmgren, who has had preliminary discussions with Hamhuis' agent, Wade Arnott. "The sooner we get going on trying to get this done, the better."
The Flyers never came to a deal with Hamhuis and ended up flipping him to the Penguins for a 3rd round pick. The Penguins didn't sign him either.
In the end, you would have to think that it would make more sense for a player to just wait a couple weeks and hit free agency rather than sign a deal with a team that just traded for his rights. Of course, there's always the chance that the market isn't what he expects, but it would seem unlikely that there would be a major drop in dollars from what the Flyers would offer right now and what a guy like Bryzgalov would get from the open market.
Apparently Bryzgalov likes the idea of being a Flyer and likes the city of Philadelphia. But then again... so did Hamhuis.
"I spent some great years with them and it is a great organization to be a part of," he said. "I've heard nothing but great things about the city of Philadelphia and the Flyers."
Just to be clear, this isn't mean to be predictive. Hamhuis and Bryz are different guys in different situations and we don't know how this trade will turn out. It's just meant to say that at this point, the Flyers really haven't done anything beyond buy themselves the right to talk to a guy a few weeks before everyone else can. They don't have themselves a goalie yet.
Thanks to @FlyersFaithful for the find.