We’ll find out by Saturday afternoon whether teams that weren’t willing to give up next to nothing for Ilya Bryzgalov will be willing to part with nothing to get him.
On the surface, it appears preposterous that Bryzgalov is in the situation in which he currently finds himself – on waivers and waiting to see whether a team will claim him by 12 noon EST Saturday. It seems just as preposterous that Ducks GM Brian Burke aggressively shopped Bryzgalov around the league and couldn’t even get as much as a fourth-round pick for him.
What makes it all so amazing is that according to those who know, Bryzgalov is a terrific goaltender, probably good enough to be a No. 1 guy on half the teams in the NHL. His numbers both this season and throughout his career are very solid and if he doesn’t step in an win three games during the first round of the playoffs last spring when Jean-Sebastien Giguere was out of the lineup, the Ducks probably don’t win the Stanley Cup.
Perhaps there’s more at work here. There is a theory that the Ducks are shipping Bryzgalov out in order to clear the decks for the return of Scott Niedermayer and/or Teemu Selanne, but the only problem with this theory is that the Ducks will only be saving about $200,000 in cap space by making this move.
Actually, Jonas Hiller, who will replace Bryzgalov in the Ducks lineup, has a contract that calls for $3.2 million in achievable bonuses, which usually go against the cap, but that aspect of the CBA seems kind of murky, particularly with players who are not on the roster for the entire season.
It’s likely the Ducks aren’t on the hook for any of that, since Hiller almost certainly won’t hit those numbers unless Giguere goes down for the season and Hiller pulls a Niklas Backstrom.
In any event, you’d have to think that Bryzgalov will be a Phoenix Coyote by Saturday afternoon.
The Coyotes certainly have the cap space, but the only thing that might prevent them from picking up another goalie is the money issue. They’re already paying David Aebischer $600,000 to play in the minors on a one-way deal and have Mikael Tellqvist at $800,000 and Alex Auld at $600,000. However, Auld is on a two-way deal that would see him make just $100,000 in the minors.
Pittsburgh, which has had all sorts of troubles with goaltending, is another possible destination for Bryzgalov.
As it stands, the Washington Capitals would have first crack at Bryzgalov by virtue of their last-place standing in the NHL, followed by the Buffalo Sabres. Neither of those teams seems to be in need of goaltending.
Teams have until 12 noon Saturday to make a claim and the team lowest in the NHL standings that makes a claim gets the player. Because 45 days of the season has already passed, the cap hit for getting Bryzgalov would be just $897,000.
It’s almost certain that somebody will put in a claim on Bryzgalov. In fact, even some of the top teams in the league might put in a claim on Bryzgalov for one reason. That’s because if a team claims Bryzgalov on waivers, it cannot trade him any time this season without first offering him to every other team that submitted a claim.
That means that if, say, Detroit puts in a claim and Dominik Hasek goes down with an injury, they would be able to put dibs in on Bryzgalov if the team claiming him attempted to trade him later this season.
Of course, in the event Bryzgalov doesn’t get traded, he’ll remain in the Ducks organization and will be sent to the minors. And it will likely be for the season, because if they tried to call him back up, a team could put in a claim on him and only be responsible for paying two-thirds of what is left of his salary for the season.