Agent: Flyers say Bryzgalov is staying

Posted: June 20, 2013

BOSTON - The Flyers already have decided to use one of their upcoming compliance buyouts on Danny Briere, as has been speculated for months.

But they are less certain about using their second buyout on goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who would be due $23 million over the next 14 years to not play for the team.

Bryzgalov's agent, Ritch Winter, told the Daily News Tuesday night he spoke with Paul Holmgren as recently as Monday to check on the status of his client.

Winter contacted Holmgren based on various reports, especially from TSN in Canada, that Bryzgalov would be bought out. Winter said Holmgren reassured him that Bryzgalov was one of the Flyers' "best players" and that he was "not the problem" and would remain a Flyer next season.

It should be noted that Jeff Carter's agent, Philadelphia-based Rick Curran, alleged that Holmgren assured his camp in 2011 that Carter would not be traded about a week before he was dealt.

"I wanted to check one more time with Paul based on the various reports," Winter said. "He's told me the same thing every time I've talked to him. I've worked with Paul a long time. Until he gives me a reason to think otherwise, I trust what he is telling me."

That could all change in an instant if Holmgren finds a deal he likes. Holmgren clearly is making sure all of his angles are covered.

According to a team source, the Flyers have been involved in trade talks with Los Angeles for goaltender Jonathan Bernier for more than a week, and they're among a group of finalists in the running for his services.

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has gathered offers from as many as 12 teams, according to the source, but the field has been whittled down to approximately seven contenders. Rogers Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos reported on Monday that Toronto is also considered one of the front-runners.

It is believed the Kings would like to move Bernier, one of the summer's hottest names, before June 30's draft in New Jersey.

The hot rumor at the Stanley Cup finals is that the Flyers are dangling forward Matt Read and a draft pick to obtain Bernier's rights. That could not be confirmed.

Bernier, 24, has only 62 NHL games on his resumé but many think he is ready to break free from the gridlock caused by Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles and become a full-time starter. Bernier is set to become a restricted free agent on July 5. He likely would require a $2.5 million to $3 million annual salary once his rights are acquired.

Bernier fired his agent this week, opting for representation by CAA Sports, the same group that has negotiated with the Flyers on behalf of Briere, Claude Giroux, Mark Streit and Max Talbot, among others.

So, the Flyers' apparent plan would be to throw Bernier in an inexpensive tandem with fellow 24-year-old Steve Mason and let them compete. Clearly, the Flyers aren't ready to hand over the reins to Mason, who was spectacular in his six-start audition in April.

While some observers are concerned that Mason may struggle working in a tandem with such a young competitor, it's important to point out that Mason and Bernier backstopped Team Canada together to a gold medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships. Giroux, Luke Schenn and Wayne Simmonds were also on that team.

If the price for Bernier is too high, however, the Flyers do appear to have a backup plan. Ray Emery has piqued the interest of the Flyers' brass as a Plan B. Emery, 30, is Corey Crawford's backup for the Blackhawks. The two shared the Jennings Trophy last week for posting the league's best goals-against average this season.

Emery will be an unrestricted free agent, and he is looking for an opportunity to win a starting job. He appeared in 29 games for the Flyers in 2009-10, but suffered a career-threatening hip injury that required delicate surgery and a long rehab before making it back with Anaheim in 2010-11.

Emery retooled his game and posted a .922 save percentage this season for Chicago. He likely would be an affordable option. Edmonton also reportedly is interested in Emery, but the Flyers already know what they'd be getting. He's far removed from his off-ice issues and earned the respect of Flyers management during his brief stay in Philadelphia.

DN Members Only : The Flyers must fix their identity crisis.


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