When Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke put Ilya Bryzgalov on waivers last week, the move was met with a fair bit of head scratching. But don’t discount the possibility that giving Bryzgalov away was a calculated move that would have made the late Sam Pollock proud.
It was Pollock, remember, who traded Ralph Backstrom to the Los Angeles Kings in 1971 with the express purpose of bolstering the Kings so they wouldn’t finish last overall and get the first overall pick in the draft. That helped allow the Oakland Seals to finish last, which led the Montreal Canadiens, who owned Oakland’s pick, to draft Guy Lafleur.
Fast forward to this season. Burke’s Anaheim Ducks own the Edmonton Oilers’ first round pick in June and there’s little doubt Burke knew no team prior to Phoenix would claim Bryzgalov. He also knew very well the Coyotes would happily claim him, and better goaltending might move them ahead of the Oilers, giving the Ducks a better seeding in the draft lottery with the Oilers’ selection.
If that was Burke’s diabolical scheme, so far things have gone pretty much according to plan. Going into Friday night’s game against the Ducks, Bryzgalov had allowed just one goal on 57 shots to lead the Coyotes to two straight victories, while the Oilers had the second-worst winning percentage in the league.
Of course, Burke may have scuppered himself by acquiring Brian Sutherby from the last-place Washington Capitals for a second round pick. That may make the Capitals worse, if that’s possible. Four points in arrears of the Oilers, the Capitals have the inside track for the No. 1 seed in the draft lottery.
NOT GOING TO HAPPEN Teemu Selanne’s agent shot down a recent report his star client was on the verge of signing a contract with a Swedish Allsvenskan (Teir II) team.
Several reports out of Sweden recently suggested Selanne was close to signing with Leksand, the current team of former NHL goaltender Ed Belfour.
“I know nothing about this,” agent Don Baizley told the thehockeynews.com. “I haven’t spoken with Teemu in 2-3 weeks and I find it hard to believe this would be true.”
It would seem rather ridiculous to think a player who scored 90 points in the world’s best league would sign one year later with a team that amounts to a minor pro club.
Baizley says his client’s stance on his future hasn’t changed since the off-season.
“I would think he’ll either play for the Ducks or retire,” Baizley said. “In fact, his dream scenario was the Ducks win the Cup and he rides off into the sunset.”