Flyers, goalie Bryzgalov talk, but do not reach a deal

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov spent two days with the Flyers and hinted - on Twitter - that he will sign with the team.
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov spent two days with the Flyers and hinted - on Twitter - that he will sign with the team. (CARLO9S OSORIO / Associated Press)
Posted: June 18, 2011

Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers did not reach a contract agreement during the goalie's two days in the area.

But that doesn't mean the Flyers won't sign the talented goaltender.

No one wanted to talk on the record about the negotiations, but there was an underlying flow of optimism coming from both sides.

The Flyers acquired Bryzgalov's rights last week, and they hope to reach an agreement before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

"We have spoken with Ilya and his agent, Ritch Winter, about many different scenarios," general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement on Friday. "As for now, we both know each other's position and have agreed to speak again next week."

On Twitter, Bryzgalov, typing in Russian, hinted he will sign with the Flyers.

Before the two days of meetings, Flyers officials were optimistic about Bryzgalov wearing the orange and black. That didn't change, sources said.

The Flyers wined and dined Bryzgalov, took him on tours of their Voorhees practice facility, the Wells Fargo Center, and some of the city's historical sites. They also showed him some housing possibilities in South Jersey.

The Flyers already have nearly $59 million committed to 18 players for 2011-12. The salary cap is expected to climb from $59.4 million to $62.4 million for next season.

There's a chance the Flyers will reach an agreement with Bryzgalov and not sign him until July 1 - after which teams can exceed the cap by 10 percent for the summer. That would give them more time to trade a player and open cap space. Or they could make a deal at the NHL draft, which will be held Friday and Saturday in Minnesota.

Bryzgalov, who turns 31 on Wednesday, said last week he was excited about being acquired by the Flyers and that he wanted to help end the franchise's 36-year Stanley Cup drought.

But, in the end, it will all come down to the contract.

The Flyers seem prepared to pay Bryzgalov about $5.5 million per season for five years. If they cannot come to terms, they could be interested in another Russian, the New York Islanders' Evgeni Nabokov, an older and much cheaper goalie.

Nabokov, who will turn 36 on July 25, was having a poor season in Russia last year when he left the KHL for family reasons. He returned to the NHL and was claimed by the Islanders, but he didn't play for them, implying he only wanted to play for a contender.

His contract for this season is just $570,000.

If the Flyers signed Nabokov, they would probably be able to keep most of their team intact - minus the player they dealt to the Islanders. They would figure to have enough cap space to re-sign winger Ville Leino, a prospective free agent.

But Bryzgalov, a player in his prime, is the goalie the Flyers want.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or @BroadStBull on Twitter.

 

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