Over the last few years, the Philadelphia Flyers have earned the reputation of being aggressive in their philosophy to team building and development. If Bob McKenzie of TSN is correct, that will continue to be the case this offseason.
With the Stanley Cup Final set to begin on Wednesday night in Chicago, the opening of the compliance buyout period is rapidly approaching. Forty-eight hours after either Jonathan Toews or Zdeno Chara lifts the Cup over his head, all 30 of the NHL's membership clubs will have the opportunity to extend up to two buyouts to any player(s) on their roster.
While general manager Paul Holmgren has previously stated that goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will not be extended a buyout this summer, McKenzie believes otherwise. The TSN insider tweeted on Saturday evening that he thinks it's likely that Bryzgalov will be bought out this summer.
The Bryzgalov situation has been fairly complicated since the beginning. Coming into Philadelphia after a chaotic 2011 postseason that included the "goalie carousel" of Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton and Sergei Bobrovsky, Bryzgalov's arrival came in tandem with the departure of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. Obviously, the nine-year, $51 million contract has drawn some attention, as has Bryzgalov's relationship with the media. Of course, his play hasn't done much to alleviate the focus.
Bryzgalov's contract is seemingly the key component to a buyout. With the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million next season, the Flyers already have $69.8 million allocated to 24 players. It's expected that Danny Briere will also be given a buyout, which will alleviate $6.5 million in cap space. If the Flyers buy out Bryzgalov, they will free up $5.6 million, which the player currently stands to command against the cap for the next seven seasons.
Given the option, it seems like getting out of the contract is in the best interest of the Flyers, especially when considering how tumultuous the relationship has been to this point.
For a time, it appeared as though the Flyers were gearing up for a goaltender competition in 2013-14. With the compliance period open this summer or next, the team could give Bryzgalov another season to prove himself before making the final decision on a buyout. After acquiring Steve Mason at the deadline and subsequently signing him to a one-year contract, the team was in a situation where it could take the year to determine if either Bryzgalov or Mason was the goaltender it was looking for.
While the concept works on paper, the threat of injury is a hazard to the team's flexibility. If Bryzgalov were to sustain an injury and was not cleared to play during next summer's buyout period, the Flyers would not be permitted to extend him a compliance buyout. Meaning, the franchise would be stuck with his contract for the entirety of the remaining term.
That could be a situation the team looks to avoid.
However, that might not be the only major move the Flyers make this summer.
McKenzie also tweeted that the team is looking to improve its defense corps and that Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier could be traded in order to do so. Couturier's name has popped up in trade rumors and apparently is a player rival general managers ask Holmgren about during trade discussions.
Considering the state of the Flyers defense and the lackluster unrestricted free agent market this summer, trade seems to be the only way the team can improve that area this offseason. In order to make an impact move, Philadelphia will need to give up a player of value. Either Couturier or Schenn would fit that mold.
Whatever the case might be, it appears as though Philadelphia is in for another interesting summer.