One thing the Philadelphia Flyers fan base will never cease to hear about is how we have not had a capable number one goalie in this city for 20 odd years. Two years ago, with the signing of Ilya Bryzgalov (Bryz), the Flyer front office hoped to solve the riddle between the pipes. Instead, it has been less than pleasant for Bryzgalov’s tenure in Philadelphia. With the potential of an amnesty buyout looming for certain Flyers, they will be looking to upgrade every position going into the offseason.
According to Eklund of Hockbuzz.com, the Flyers are interested in Buffalo Sabres’ goaltender, Ryan Miller. Eklund states, “There is so much we don’t know about the Flyers off-season plans, but I do know that as the season wound down I kept hearing Ryan Miller’s name being mentioned. Would he come to Philly and stay in the East? Could the Sabres trade him to one of their most hated rivals? Would the Flyers part with a player like Brayden Schenn to make a deal happen?”
Now, first and foremost, if the Flyers are targeting high end goalies this offeason, it means Ilya Bryzgalov’s tenure in Philadelphia is coming to an end. Luckily, the Flyers have two amnesty buyouts, and one would have to be used on Bryzgalov. The amnesty buyouts won’t have any impact on the Flyers’ salary cap, but ownership will have to dish out the money to make it happen. Bryzgalov has seven years and 34.5 million left on a nine year 51 million dollar contract he signed in the summer of 2011.
Would Ryan Miller make sense for the Flyers? Ryan Miller has been a productive goalie in Buffalo almost his entire career. The Sabres have struggled mightily the last few seasons behind a poor offense and even worse defense, but Miller has still produced decent numbers. The past two seasons, Miller has put up save percentages of .916 and .915, compared to Bryz’s save percentages of .909 and .900. There is no doubt that if Miller were brought in, he would be an upgrade over Bryz.
One major problem in acquiring Ryan Miller would be the salary cap going forward with the Flyers. Right now they have -3,269,762 cap space heading into next season according to capgeek.com. Daniel Briere is almost a sure amnesty buyout for the Flyers, who will create 6.5 million dollars in cap space. If the Flyers are serious about Miller, then Bryz would also be bought out with the second amnesty buyout. The Flyers would have no choice but to buy Bryz out with his contract and with his no movement clause, he is unmovable.
With the two buyouts of Briere and Bryz, the Flyers would have just under 9 million in cap space. Bringing in Miller and his contract with one year at 6.25 million would leave the Flyer with just over 2.6 million in cap space. Now, Eklund asks if the Flyers would be willing to part with Brayden Schenn. This would only save the Flyers 900K against the cap for next season due to the bonus cushion. It would leave the Flyers with 3.5 million to improve a roster that missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
The Flyers also have the ability to put Chris Pronger on long term injury reserve next year if need be, to get under the new 64.3 million salary cap. In doing so, the Flyers would have just under 8.5 million dollars to improve the team heading into the new season.
The Flyers, like most of the teams in the NHL, are looking to acquire a top six forward and a top four defense this offseason one would think. If this is their true game plan, acquiring Miller would not work if that is the only big move during the offseason. More salary would either have to be in the Miller trade, or the Flyers would be moving salary in other areas.
My personal opinion on a Miller trade to Philadelphia is that there is no chance I would want to see this happen. Not only would the Flyers be acquiring a goaltender that is able to leave via free agency after next year, but they would be paying one of our premier young players to get him.
Even if the Flyers believe that Miller would sign here long term after trading for him, I would still be reluctant to offer Brayden Schenn for him. Draft picks and prospects would make sense for the Sabres though, as they seem to be going into a rebuild this offseason with the trade of their captain, Jason Pominiville, during the year.
Although Ryan Miller would be an upgrade in net, I don’t see the Flyers trading one of their top young centers for him. It would create yet another hole in the top six for a team that struggled with five on five hockey. If the asking price didn’t include one of the Flyers’ young centers or our 11th overall draft pick this year, then it would make sense from the Flyers’ perspective. Although, I don’t think the Sabres would bite on a deal excluding those players or assets. I can see other teams offering more than the Flyers to acquire Miller, which is another reason I don’t see Miller playing in Philadelphia next year.
One thing that remains undeniable, however, is that if Bryz continues to struggle, the Flyers’ goalie carousel will continue to spin.