The Flyers have concluded their first round of negotiations with goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and agent Ritch Winter, and the bad news is there is no deal. The good news is that there will be new talks next week.
“We have spoken with Ilya and his agent Ritch Winter about many different scenarios,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “As for now, we both know each other’s position and have agreed to speak again next week. There will be no further comment at this time.”
With July 1 being the start date to the free agent period, there’s still time to get a deal done. But with the draft coming up next weekend, it would be ideal to have an agreement with Bryzgalov in place before teams start making selections. That’s because, in order to sign Bryzgalov, the Flyers will likely need to move a big contract such as the one held by Jeff Carter.
Moving Carter or whoever before the draft will ensure the team receives back the most value right now and will make it much easier to come to terms with Bryzgalov before the 30 year-old goaltender hits free agency. If a deal is struck with Bryzgalov before a trade is made, other teams will squeeze the Flyers since leverage will be lopsided in favor of the other teams who would then know that the Flyers will have to make a trade in order to comply with the requirements of the salary cap.
Either way, the Flyers will have to wait until June 30 to announce any deal with Bryzgalov since that is the day the official 2011-2012 salary cap figures will be announced. They need to see just how much room they will have to work with going forward, knowing that a contract for Bryzgalov can’t chew up every cent since room needs to be left for future transactions, especially for injury insurance.
But regardless of how it plays out, the Flyers will need to do whatever it takes to sign Bryzgalov. If that means taking less value for Carter than they could ultimately get, so be it. With the spectre of goalie uncertainty suffocating this team for many, many years, the chance to add a legitimate difference-maker between the pipes, a player in the prime of his career at a position of critical importance both to the Flyers and to hockey teams in general, is something the Flyers need to make sure they don’t pass up.
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