With the trade of Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs the Flyers lost out on a goaltender that I am personally a very big fan of. I think that Bernier is the real deal, and I would have loved to have been able to acquire him. Naturally, if that acquisition were to have happened, an Ilya Bryzgalov compliance buyout would have been inevitable.
I am in favor of buying out Bryzgalov simply because of his contract. I’m a numbers and salary cap guy and I think it is absolutely crucial that he leave. While the Flyers could wait another year, I think it’s just delaying the inevitable and you also risk an injury which could result in not being able to buy him out.
So the million dollar question is, will they actually buyout Bryzgalov? The follow up to that (or possibly even the prerequisite) is who can they realistically bring in as the second goaltender, be it as a 1A/B goaltender with Steve Mason, or as a backup?
Broad Street Hockey (BSH) had a great article breaking down the state of the goaltending market this summer. One of the keys in being able to effectively predict what a goaltender might cost is to understand how many teams have a need? As BSH indicates, it was pretty clear that two summers ago, there would be a bargain at goaltender. There were simply more available goaltenders than there were goaltender needy teams. Tomas Vokoun was ultimately that bargain.
This year, BSH, indicates seven teams, at most, that may need/want a goaltender: Buffalo, Calgary, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, NY Islanders, and Phoenix.
Free Agent Goaltenders of note include:
Goaltenders that could be available either via trade or after a compliance buyout include:
Ryan Miller – 1 year remaining at $6.25 million
Roberto Luongo – likely to be bought out and free to sign
Jonas Hiller – 1 year remaining at $4.5 million
Jaroslav Halak – 1 year remaining at $3.75 million
It is entirely possible that, like two seasons ago, there is a bargain to be had somewhere.
If I were general manager, I would absolutely buyout Bryzgalov and I would attempt to sign one of the free agent goaltenders to a reasonable, short-term contract to pair with Steve Mason. It’s not ideal by any means, but it might help bridge the gap to next offseason when the goaltender market should be better. And again, I’m so numbers driven that I just want Bryzgalov off the books for the peace of mind. If that means a less than ideal goaltending situation…well…we’re used to that.
Khudobin, Emery, and Backstrom would probably be my top choices with Nabokov, Smith, and Thomas being several steps below them due to their age, salary demands, or general craziness.
Signing a player would obviously save the Flyers an asset when compared to having to make a deal for a goaltender. Of the goalies in the latter category, I find Halak and Hiller very interesting, but I question the price it would take to acquire them.
It’s going to be very interesting goaltender market this summer, and I expect the Flyers to be right in the thick of it.