The Flyers used the second of their two compliance buyout options today, parting ways with Bryzgalov after just two seasons.
“I met with Ilya this morning and informed him that we are going to exercise a compliance buy out of his contract,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “This was a very difficult business decision to make for us and we want to thank Ilya for his time here and wish him all the best moving forward.”
Bryzgalov was originally signed to a nine-year, $51 million contract prior to the start of the 2011-12 season.
He never lived up to the value of that contract and after two tumultuous seasons with the team, is on the open market.
The Flyers will have to pay Bryzgalov two-thirds of the balance owed on his remaining term, or $23 million, but will have twice as long to pay it off.
As such, the Flyers will pay Bryzgalov approximately $1.643 million per year for the next 14 years to not play for them.
"Obviously it’s a costly mistake that we made," Holmgren said. "You know Ilya, it’s hard to fault him. I still believe he played pretty good, but in a salary cap world you need to make decisions from time to time that put you in a better light moving forward and this is one of those."
The Flyers will save $5.667 million on the cap for each of the next seven seasons by exercising this buyout.
Combined with the Briere buyout, the Flyers have saved themselves about $12.17 million against the cap in each of the next two seasons.
Bryzgalov, 33, never fulfilled his promise in Philadelphia, playing in 99 games for the Flyers going 52-33-10 with a 2.61 goals against average and a .905 save percentage in the regular season. His GAA and save percentage while with the Flyers ranked lower than his career averages of 2.55 and .915 respectively.
He also played in 11 playoff games for the Flyers going 5-6 with a 3.46 GAA and an .887 save percentage.
The Flyers are now out of compliance buyout options.
Despite reports hinting the contrary, Holmgren said the decision was purely business-minded for the team - saying that things like signing Claude Giroux, who is entering the final year of his contract, to a long-term deal would not be possible unless the compliance buyouts were used.
As such, the decision had nothing to do with perceived locker room troubles.
"I’m not in the room, none of us are," Holmgren said. "I think Ilya is a colorful guy. Does he say things out of the blue sometimes? Absolutely, but I don’t think he’s any different than a lot of other players I have been associated with. I didn’t have an issue with that. This is strictly a business decision."
The Flyers will definitely be in the market for goaltending in the next two weeks as the draft approaches as well as the start of free agency.
It's a safe bet the Flyers have plans in place to fill that void, otherwise they wouldn't have moved forward with the buyout so quickly.
What those plans are remain very close to Holmgren's vest.
"I have ideas," he said. "Obviously, we’re in need of another goalie. Probably a couple. I feel like where we’re at right now we’ve got Cal Heeter, we’ve got a kid Carsen (Chubak) here on an American League deal and we’ve got Steve Mason. So, we’re in the market for goalies. How we do it, remains to be seen... There’s options out there right now and we’ll go at it the best way we can."
Holmgren did say though that he has confidence in Mason to carry a bulk of the load, even if he's looking for a goalie to share time with Mason.
"I’m a big Steve Mason fan," Holmgren said. "I think moving forward he’s a very good young goalie in our league that has, for his age, a lot of experience. I know there’s a short window that we got to watch him here, but he played very well. Even the game he lost, he played well. Ideally, I’d like to get a guy that will work in tandem with him, but [put] the bulk onto Steve and we’ll see how it goes."
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