It’s been nearly two weeks since the Philadelphia Flyers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, but rumors of their potential off-season moves are keeping them in the headlines.
Speculation is growing over what the Flyers will do to address their goaltending situation next season, but Phoenix Coyotes pending free agent Ilya Bryzgalov is believed to be the Flyers’ primary target.
Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com cited a league source “intimately familiar with the Russian” who claimed Bryzgalov “would relish” the opportunity to play for the Flyers and the attention he’d get from their fans.
The source also claimed the Flyers and Coyotes were involved in trade talks this season, some that included Jeff Carter, as the Coyotes searched for depth at center. But to make room for Bryzgalov the Flyers would need to clear around $5.5 million in cap space.
However, Panaccio’s source also said Bryzgalov’s personality isn’t the type that would make him a good mentor for fellow Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
But Bryzgalov isn’t the only goalie being linked to the Flyers in the rumor mill.
Panaccio listed Florida’s pending UFA Tomas Vokoun, plus Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff, Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom and the Islanders’ Evgeni Nabokov as other targets.
Delawareonline.com’s Chuck Gormley noted those rumors as well and claimed to have heard “whispers” of interest in Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist.
Gormley suggested the only way to pry Miller, Brodeur or Lundqvist from their respective clubs, which are division rivals of the Flyers, would be through a three-way trade. Considering this, Gormley concluded Kiprusoff and Backstrom would be the most logical options.
Of the pair, Gormley feels Backstrom would be the most likely acquisition for Philadelphia, as the Wild are starving for offense. To clear the cap space for Backstrom’s $6 million per season salary Gormley suggested either offering up Carter or a package involving Kris Versteeg and defenseman Matt Carle to address the Wild’s needs.
Pursuing free agents Bryzgalov or Vokoun would be expensive, but doable for the Flyers as they could shed salary through other avenues such as trades, demotions of buyouts.
Trading for Miller, Brodeur, Lundqvist or Kiprusoff, however, is pure fantasy, as is the suggestion of prying Backstrom from the Wild. Yes, the Wild need more offense, but they won’t part with their top goaltender, especially when they don’t have a suitable replacement for him; they’d just be trading one problem for another.
But Wayne Fish of Phillyburbs.com doesn’t subscribe to the theory the Flyers will pursue a big name goalie. Instead, he suggested GM Paul Holmgren didn’t seem ready to buck the franchise’s trend of avoiding investing big money in goaltending.
Fish believes Holmgren is committed to Bobrovsky as his future starter and with Michael Leighton under contract for another year, those two will likely be the Flyers tandem next season. Fish went on to suggest Bobrovsky should get another season to prove his worth before the club considers adding a high-priced import and believed if there’s money to be spent, it should go towards bringing in another scorer.
RADULOV READY FOR NHL RETURN?
The status of former Nashville Predators right winger Alexander Radulov continues to attract the attention of NHL and Kontinental League followers.
Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov recently reported on the possibility of a reduction in funding for Radulov’s KHL team, Salavat Yulaev, which could result in his return to the Predators. Nashville retains Radulov’s NHL rights and he still has one season remaining on his entry-level deal with the team he spurned when he signed with the KHL three years ago.
Chesnokov pointed out KHL contracts aren’t guaranteed and can be terminated by the player or the team, which is what happened this season to Evgeni Nabokov and Kyle Wellwood.
Radulov has been the KHL’s top player since he arrived and, as Chesnokov reported, has achieved everything possible in that league, which may also spur him to return to the NHL.
If he does, it would certainly improve the Predators’ popgun offense next season, but given the contentious history between Predators GM David Poile and the Radulov camp, it remains to be seen if management would want to work out a long-term contract extension.
In the meantime, Poile faces the challenge of freeing up cap space to re-sign Shea Weber and bring in more scoring, be it Radulov or someone else.
One option to shed salary is buying out the contract of veteran right winger J-P Dumont. He has one year at $4 million remaining on his deal, but his performance has deteriorated in recent years, which makes it difficult to justify another season at that salary.
Poile declined to say what his plans were for Dumont and preferred to meet with the veteran privately in the coming weeks to discuss his future with the team.
It’s possible they’d demote Dumont to the minors, but given Nashville’s cost-conscious ways it’s a stretch to imagine the team burying a $4 million contract on its farm team. A trade is also unlikely, which leaves a buyout as Nashville’s only viable solution unless Dumont decides to retire.
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 Magazine.