Flyers land Bryzgalov with 9-year, $51M deal

Posted: June 24, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Lost in the shuffle of the Flyers gutting their team yesterday was the official signing of the man who made the dominoes fall: Ilya Bryzgalov.

Chairman Ed Snider has officially gotten his goaltender.

Just after both trades were announced and approved by the NHL, the Flyers inked Bryzgalov to a whopping, 9-year deal for $51 million. In exchange for the long term, the Flyers were able to bring in this summer's top available free-agent goaltender for a manageable $5.667 million salary cap hit.

"We rank Ilya as one of the top, or upper-echelon, goalies of the league," general manager Paul Holmgren said yesterday at his media availability at the Grand Hotel. "Bringing him in does bring us stability."

The Flyers acquired Bryzgalov's exclusive negotiating rights on June 7 from Phoenix in exchange for the rights of Phantoms forward Matt Clackson and a 2012 third-round draft pick.

Since the Flyers signed Bryzgalov before the draft, they will sacrifice Pittsburgh's third-round pick (No. 84 overall) in this weekend's draft to the Coyotes; it was a conditional pick as part of the deal.

The structure for Bryzgalov's contract is a sliding pay scale that will decrease as he ages. The NHL calculates the salary-cap hit not only in real dollars paid in a season, but also the overall number divided by the term.

Bryzgalov, who turned 31 this week, is under contract until he is 40. He will earn $48 million in the first 7 years of the deal, starting with $10 million next season. That number drops to $6.5 million in 2012-13, $8 million in 2013-14, $6 million each in 2014-15 and 2015-16, $5.5 million each in 2016-17 and 2017-18, $2.5 million in 2018-19; and $1.25 million in 2019-20.

The exact terms of the contract were reported by TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Coincidentally, Bryzgalov supplants Jeff Carter and Mike Richards as the player who is under contract the longest in the Flyers organization.

He also raises a sincere question about the Flyers' plan of action with Sergei Bobrovsky, a 22-year-old fellow Russian who suddenly will be pushed to the backup role.

"We still have a young guy [Bobrovsky] and we're hoping he can kind of grow into a role on our team," Holmgren said. "But adding Ilya, and maintaining the defense we had last year, we think we're in a good spot."

The Flyers have always called Bobrovsky their "goalie of the future," but with Bryzgalov under contract for the next nine seasons, that becomes an awful hard sell for Bobrovsky to swallow. It's fair to wonder whether his development will be stunted after winning 28 games last season, only to sit behind the workhorse Bryzgalov, who hasn't played fewer than 65 games in each of the last three seasons.

And with a $1.75 million deal, Bobrovsky also will become the NHL's second-highest paid backup, possibly making him a prime candidate for trade bait at this weekend's draft.

Just as suddenly, though, the Flyers don't have the salary-cap restraints that were an issue only a day ago. *

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