The Philadelphia Flyers announcement Tuesday that they will buy out goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov – the largest contract buyout in NHL history – raises questions over who his replacement will be.
It was believed a Bryzgalov buyout would hinge on Flyers GM Paul Holmgren landing a replacement via trade. He attempted to acquire Jonathan Bernier, who wound up being dealt from the LA Kings to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Jason Brough of NBC Sports speculated on Holmgren's options, listing Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, Buffalo's Ryan Miller, Phoenix's Mike Smith and Chicago's Ray Emery. He also suggests they could stick with trade deadline pickup Steve Mason.
Holmgren reportedly made enquiries earlier this season about Luongo, whom the Canucks have been peddling for a year. When asked about Luongo during the press conference announcing Bryzgalov's buyout, Holmgren expressed doubt about landing him.
If the Canucks buy out Luongo, however, he would become a more affordable option for the Flyers.
Miller would consider a trade from Buffalo, but it's believed he'd prefer to be dealt to a California-based team to be closer to his actress wife. His eligibility for unrestricted free agency next summer suggests the Flyers would want assurances he'd sign a contract extension before agreeing to a trade.
Smith, slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5, is currently in talks with Coyotes management. If the club remains in Arizona, it's expected he'll re-sign.
Emery is a former Flyer and co-winner (with Corey Crawford) of the Jennings Trophy. He's expected to test the free agent market, but hasn't been a full-time starter since undergoing career-threatening hip surgery three years ago.
He could be brought in as a backup and mentor for Mason. Other backup options include free agents Jose Theodore, Evgeni Nabokov or Dan Ellis.
Factor in the buyout of Daniel Briere and the acquisition of Mark Streit and it's clear Holmgren isn't done making moves this summer.
MINNESOTA IN NEED OF SALARY CAP SPACE
The Minnesota Wild's re-signing of goaltender Niklas Backstrom to a three-year, $10.25-million contract (annual cap hit: $3.42 million) leaves GM Chuck Fletcher with roughly $3.3 million in cap space.
That's not enough to re-sign or replace free agents Matt Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck, Jared Spurgeon and Justin Falk.
Michael Russo of Startribune.com believes GM Chuck Fletcher has little choice but to free up space via trades or compliance buyouts.
Russo believes trade candidates include Clutterbuck, Falk, Zenon Konopka and Tom Gilbert, though the latter's declining performance and $4 million salary will make him a tough sell. If Fletcher cannot find a trade partner for Gilbert, the blueliner could receive a compliance buyout.
Russo claims the Edmonton Oilers have interest in Clutterbuck and reported the Wild contacted them about a trade involving Oilers prospect Tyler Pitlick.
RED WINGS GET BUSY
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland will be a busy man heading into this weekend's NHL draft.
Ansar Khan of MLive.com reported Holland could move a couple of forwards at the draft, suggesting scrappy Jordin Tootoo and fourth-liner Cory Emmerton as trade candidates.
Holland could get creative with his trades. “Maybe a two-for-one deal, maybe a three-for-one, or a three-for-two,” he told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.
St. James speculates defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is a trade or buyout candidate. Mikael Samuelsson – if healthy – could also receive a buyout.
Khan and St. James both anticipate the negotiating rights of pending free agent Valtteri Filppula will be shopped. Filppula is reportedly seeking $5-million per season, far more than Holland is willing to pay.
The Wings could target Stephen Weiss as Filppula's replacement if the Florida Panthers are unable to re-sign him before free agency begins on July 5.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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