Lost amid the recent hype over the status of Dallas Stars center Brad Richards was a weekend report from the Calgary Sun‘s Eric Francis forecasting the possibility the Phoenix Coyotes would shop the negotiating rights of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and naming the Philadelphia Flyers as a potential suitor.
Francis’ prediction proved accurate, as the Coyotes dealt Bryzgalov’s rights to the Flyers on Tuesday.
Like Richards, Bryzgalov is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is reportedly seeking a five-year contract worth between $30-32 million, which would make him the fifth-highest paid goalie in the league.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren now has a little more than three weeks to exclusively negotiate with Bryzgalov and determine how much cap space he’ll need to clear to absorb the netminder’s new salary.
Holmgren currently has just less than $59 million invested in 18 players for next season and if the cap, as expected, increases to $62 million, he’ll have about $3 million in available space.
That’s certainly not enough to sign Bryzgalov, let alone have enough left over to re-sign current roster players such as UFA left winger Ville Leino and restricted free agents Andreas Nodl, Darroll Powe and Dan Carcillo.
It’s been speculated Holmgren will make some room by waiving, demoting or trading goalie Michael Leighton ($1.55 million) and putting Ian Laperriere ($1.16 million) on LTIR next season, but now it appears he’ll have to shed more salary this summer.
Center Jeff Carter ($5.272 million) has once again popped up in Internet rumors, but Holmgren has stated he wants to keep his core intact and Carter is part of that group. He also has an 11-year, $58-million contract that begins next season and would limit potential trade destinations.
Other trade options include defenseman Matt Carle ($3.437 million) and right winger Kris Versteeg ($3.083 million). Holmgren wouldn’t be able to take much salary in return and would seek low-cost players, prospects and/or draft picks in a trade.
If, however, Bryzgalov doesn’t reach an agreement with the Flyers, he would become the best goalie available in this summer’ free agent pool. Given the uncertainty over what the next CBA will contain, Bryzgalov may face limited options if he opts for free agency.
He’d also want to avoid pricing himself out of the market, as Evgeni Nabokov did last summer.
The opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup contender may be enticing enough for Bryzgalov to sign with the Flyers.
If Holmgren fails to sign Bryzgalov, he could then pursue Florida’s Tomas Vokoun via free agency, or perhaps acquire Nabokov’s very affordable one-year, $570,000 contract from the New York Islanders.
CAN THE MAPLE LEAFS MOVE UP IN THE DRAFT?
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has spread the word he’s looking to move up in the draft order at the NHL draft in Minnesota.
Burke has two picks in the first round, the 25th overall from Philadelphia plus Boston’s first round pick, which will be 29th or 30th overall, depending on how the Bruins fare in the Stanley Cup final.
Burke is reportedly willing to package either of those picks with his second round pick (39th overall) to secure a higher spot in the first round.
Leafs fans shouldn’t expect a placement in the top 10, but it’s possible Burke will be able to move up into the middle of the opening round.
The Toronto Sun recently reported about speculation the Leafs were trying to acquire Brad Richards’ negotiating rights from the Dallas Stars, but there’s little indication that’s going to happen.
Burke has more than $20 million in available cap space to invest in a first line center, but if he cannot find one via free agency he’ll likely go the trade route.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey News.