The Philadelphia Flyers made a significant trade, exchanging AHL forward Matt Clackson, a 2012 third-round draft pick, and another conditional draft selection with the Phoenix Coyotes for the rights to impending free agent goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
With less than a month until the start of free agency, the Flyers are racing against the clock to sign the veteran goalie and shore up their greatest weakness from the 2010-2011 season. During the 2011 postseason, Philadelphia rotated goalies Michael Leighton, Brian Boucher, and Sergei Brobovsky on their way to a sweep against the eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins in the semifinals. A healthy Bryzgalov would make them a ferocious opponent in the upcoming season.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, Bryzgalov has to agree to a contract before July 1; otherwise, the picks are a complete loss. Before they can agree to a contract, the Flyers must clear cap space. They are currently up against the projected cap for next season, and with only 18 players signed to a contract, In order to add Bryzgalov’s potential contract (likely more than $4 million per year), the Flyers would have to dump some of their higher salaries without gaining anything of value in return.
It was long expected that the Flyers would make such a move. Still, this trade injures teams like the Colorado Avalanche who have declared they will pursue a starting goalie this offseason via trade or free agency. With Bryzgalov potentially off the table, the next best option remaining is Thomas Vokoun, the 35 year old veteran from the Florida Panthers. But Vokoun would demand a high salary, something that that would cause cap savvy teams like Colorado to hesitate before offering a deal.
With Corey Crawford re-signing with Chicago, and now Bryzgalov likely to become a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, the Avalanche’s options are becoming more and more limited for a top-flight goalie. There are few veteran free agent options remaining, and the team may be forced to trade several prospects for a high upside starter such as the Los Angeles Kings’ backup Doug Bernier.