As expected, the Philadelphia Flyers recent acquisition of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s negotiating rights from the Phoenix Coyotes resulted in an upsurge of speculation over which current Flyers will be dealt to make room for Bryzgalov’s new contract.
It’s rumored Bryzgalov will seek top dollar as an unrestricted free agent if the Flyers fail to re-sign him before July 1 and it’s believed it will cost between $6-7 million per season to keep him in Philadelphia.
Bryzgalov’s agent declined to comment when asked if the Russian netminder would accept a deal for less than four years in length.
A report out of Columbus (citing multiple sources) claimed the Blue Jackets and Flyers were working on a potential blockbuster deal that would send center Jeff Carter to Columbus in exchange for a top-six forward (possibly right winger Jakub Voracek) and the Blue Jackets’ first round pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren denied the report, but there’s no question he’ll have to clear cap space to make room for Bryzgalov.
Defenseman Matt Carle ($3.437 million cap hit for next season) and right winger Kris Versteeg ($3.083 million) have also been mentioned as trade possibilities.
Kevin Allen of USA Today suggested Holmgren should contact Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon to see if he has interest in Versteeg.
Tallon acquired the winger from Boston while he was GM of the Chicago Blackhawks and may be willing to trade for him again. With more than $40.5 million in available cap space (with a few of their own players to re-sign), the Panthers could easily afford Versteeg’s salary.
CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio, however, doubted Holmgren would trade Versteeg because he gave up a lot – a first and third round pick in this year’s draft – to pry him away from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Panaccio suggested unrestricted free agents Ville Leino and Sean O’Donnell may also become cap casualties if the Flyers sign Bryzgalov.
It is expected the Flyers will sign Bryzgalov to an expensive, multi-year contract by the NHL draft (June 24-25) and that Holmgren will make one or two trades prior to officially announcing the deal.
Of course, it remains to be seen which players will be moved. Many teams would love to have Carter on their roster, but his contract (11 years, $58 million) would be hard for most teams to absorb, plus Holmgren recently said he wanted to retain the big scoring center.
The salaries of Carle and/or Versteeg would be easier to move, but they’re not on the same talent level as Carter. It’s believed Holmgren would prefer to re-sign Leino, but depending on the cost of Bryzgalov and how much salary the GM can shed, that might not be a possibility.
WILL THE RANGERS GO ON A BUYOUT SPREE?
The New York Daily News reported Thursday a source claimed Rangers GM Glen Sather intended to buy out the remaining year of veteran center Chris Drury’s contract.
Drury, 34, has one year remaining on his current deal, which will pay him $5 million, but counts as a cap hit of $7.050 million.
Injuries and Drury’s gritty style of play have clearly taken a toll in recent years and with Sather expected to take a run at signing Brad Richards if he becomes an unrestricted free agent, the Rangers GM must clear sufficient cap space and still re-sign his own key restricted free agents such as Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky.
The Daily News reported a buyout for Drury would save the Rangers $3.3 million in cap space for next season and result in a cap hit of about $1.6 million in 2012-13.
It was also thought Sather might buy out the final year of left winger Wojtek Wolski’s contract, which has a cap hit of $3.8 million.
Since Wolski is 25, the Rangers would only be tagged for one-third of his remaining salary, meaning a cap saving of $3.3 million for next season and a cap hit of a little more than $466,000.
The New York Post, however, reported late Thursday Wolski and pesky left winger Sean Avery won’t be bought out.
WILL BRAD RICHARDS TAKE A PAYCUT FOR THE LIGHTNING?
Speaking of Brad Richards, there have been conflicting reports regarding his trade status.
Earlier in the week, it was reported Richards’ agent said they had no interest in waiving his no-movement clause, as their focus was on July 1 and the start of unrestricted free agency.
Yet The Sporting News’ Craig Custance reported not only was Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk speaking with other teams about possibly trading Richards’ negotiating rights, but the center was “working closely” with management to find a suitable destination, preferably a contender with stable ownership.
One of those destinations could be Richards’ former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Richards recently told the Tampa Tribune he’d be interested in returning and while he acknowledged he probably wouldn’t get top dollar from the Bolts, he appeared to suggest he’d be willing to accept less than market value for Tampa Bay.
“Maybe you couldn’t get top dollar (in Tampa) that you might get somewhere else,” he said, “but you consider other things.”
Even if Richards was willing to accept less money to return to Tampa Bay, it seems unlikely Lightning GM Steve Yzerman would consider it, as he already has two scoring centers in Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier on the roster.
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.