Vokoun Signs With Washington; Proves Flyers Overpaid for Bryzgalov

So the Washington Capitals signed Tomas Vokoun to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. For those keeping score at home, that’s eight years and $4.166667 million less than the Flyers paid for Ilya Bryzgalov. It also means the Capitals saved $1.333333 million by trading Semyon Varlamov to Colorado for a first round pick, and either a second or third round pick.

For the second straight year, there was no market for UFA goaltenders. The highest cap hit given out to a goalie who reached unrestricted free agency belongs to… Mike Smith at $2 million per year over two years. The only other goalie scheduled to be a UFA to get a $2 million cap hit was Dwayne Roloson in Tampa, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal on June 29th.

Some will argue that the reason there is no market is because the Flyers took the best goalie off the market prior to free agency. This is a decent argument, except for the fact that Vokoun has a higher career even-strength save percentage than Bryzgalov as well as a higher total save percentage. Further, when there was only one elite goaltender left, wouldn’t that make the market crazier? With all those teams desperate for the only elite goalie left, wouldn’t they be bidding against each other?

No, because the sad truth is that there was no market for goalies. When Mike Smith gets the biggest UFA contract for a goalie, there is no bidding war. If the Flyers let Bryzgalov get to July 1st, who else would be bidding on him? Colorado? Let Colorado overpay him and go get Vokoun then.

The Flyers ignored all of this and signed Ilya Bryzgalov to the only contract for longer than two years, and the only contract worth more than $4 million. Not by a little, mind you. No, they went nine years and $51 million. When there are two teams who want an elite goalie and two elite goalies on the market, it’s pretty hard to overpay by seven years (a 350% overpay) and $47 million (1175% overpay). And yet the Flyers pulled it off.

This is remarkable if for no other reason than all we heard for the past week and a half is “this is a business.”

I have no doubt the Flyers are run by shrewd businessmen. I have no doubt that Ed Snider knows how to run a successful business. But the blatant disregard for market forces isn’t good business, and the UFA goaltending market continues to baffle the Flyers.

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