The impossible has happened.
He’s already got the black, just get him some orange.
The Flyers have traded for a bonafide goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, one of two goalies the media and fans have speculated would be a target for the Flyers. I didn’t think they would actually go after Bryzgalov or Tomas Vokoun, so I’m pleasantly stunned that they’ve done this, and the price of a 3rd round pick plus a TBA conditional pick is acceptable (Matt Clackson was also in the deal, but he was only thrown in to clear a contract). But there is a lot of work to do before we see Bryzgalov in a Flyers jersey, because on July 1 he becomes a free agent, and there’s quite a bit of cap space to be moved to be able to sign him. I’m not confident that Paul Holmgren can get it done, or that if he does he’ll do it the best way.
The obvious solution would be to deal Matt Carle for whatever picks/prospects you can get. But Holmgren seems to love Carle, or at least Carle’s type of player–before him it was Randy Jones. Prior to the Bryzgalov trade, I was fully expecting Carle to be re-signed, much to the chagrin of fans. Now, I’m not so sure. However trading Carle and signing Bryzgalov would mean the Flyers likely start the season with four legit defensemen (Pronger, Timonen, Coburn, Meszaros) and two question marks, such as Syvret, which gives the team no breathing room for injuries. I can live with that. But can Holmgren?
Which is why I think we’ll see a forward get dealt instead. The Bryzgalov trade seals Ville Leino’s fate, which was hanging by a thread in the first place, in that he won’t be back. That’s fine, and with Leino walking away the Flyers are still deep up front. If not Carle, then a forward gets moved, and the candidates seem to be Kris Versteeg and Jeff Carter. Versteeg would be on his fourth team in 3 seasons if he’s dealt. Trading away Versteeg would mean Mike Richards once again has no legit wingmen (on the ice, off the ice that isn’t a problem for him) and the return would probably be less than the 1st and 3rd that was given up to acquire him. If it’s going to be a forward that is moved though, Versteeg should be the one to go.
And then there’s Carter. Trading Carter makes sense on a couple of levels. The first is that with Richards, Briere and Giroux, the team would still be well stocked at center, whereas if you trade Carle you’re left pretty thin on the blueline in depth. The other is that the Flyers are woefully lacking in propects and organizational depth. Carter of course will get the team the best return, and the return of picks and prospects he would command would be a huge boost to the farm system. But all that overlooks that Carter is an elite player and Bryzgalov is not. You don’t trade an elite player to make way for a non-elite player. Bryzgalov is a really good goalie, but he’s not worth Carter.
My complete lack of faith in Holmgren to properly address the issues plaguing his team has me feeling like Carter will be the one traded. I hope I’m wrong, because it’s cutting off your nose to spite your face. And all of this is hinges on if Bryzgalov will even sign. He wanted a big pay day from Phoenix. Still, I’m thrilled that Holmgren has gone out and done this, although Ed Snider might be the one pulling the strings on this, which is just fine with me.
Wake me when Bryzgalov is under contract, I’ll try not to scream when I see the results.