Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has made his mark in the NHL by doing two things:
1) He offers players outrageous long-term contracts.
2) He ditches the players who fail to pay dividends on those ridiculous deals.
Naturally experts are wondering if he will use the amnesty buyout clause in the NHL’s new collective bargaining to dump goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov, who turns 33 this summer, is finishing the second year of a nine-year, $51 million contract. Holmgren was able to trade away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter – and their enormous contracts – before the lockout shut down the industry.
But trading an aging goaltender with such a contract is nearly impossible, as the Vancouver Canucks are finding out with Roberto Luongo. With the salary cap dropping from $70.2 million this season to $64.3 million in 2013-14 as part of the new CBA, the Flyers could use the amnesty buyout on Bryzgalov.
According to the CapGeek website, that would cost $23 million spread over 14 years. Bryzgalov could then sign elsewhere, comfortable in the fact his Flyers pension would pay the bills.
Last season Bryzgalov got hot late in the season and finished with OK ratios: a 2.48 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.
This season he has posted a 2.88 GAA and a .896 save percentage, ranking him near the bottom of the NHL in both categories.
He got a rare night off Tuesday night as newcomer Steve Mason played. Was Bryzgalov benched for falling asleep in a team meeting?
Philadelphia Inquirer scribe Sam Carchida reported, via Twitter, than Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen dismissed that report. But the alleged incident fueled more speculation about Ilya’s future.
The South Jersey Courier Post pressed Bryzgalov on the buyout potential Wednesday.
“To be honest, I don’t care,” he told the newspaper. “Really, I don’t care. I have no control on this, so why should I care?
“You know, I have no control in this. I can’t read the people’s mind. I can’t project things what they’re thinking, that’s why I’m not worried about things I can’t control. I maybe want one thing and they want a different thing.”
Injuries depleted the Flyers defense this season and left the squad with questionable chemistry. But Bryzgalov didn’t want to discuss the state of the roster.
“You’ve gotta understand we’re just employees here and we have front office and coaches who make the decisions with the lineups and what kind of team they created,” Bryzgalov said. “You’ve got to accept it or what are you going to say?”