(Cam Charron is a our newest addition to the Nations Network. He will pop in now and then and add his thoughts on more general NHL matters from time to time.)
Lost in all the fuss this week over the Stanley Cup Finals is the implications of the Ilya Bryzgalov trade to the Philadelphia Flyers. Phoenix, of course, doesn’t have the money to sign Bryzgalov to what are reportedly astronomical contract demands, and the rumour goes that Bryzgalov wants to be paid like a top player, and not necessarily like a top goalie.
Only Carey Price and Cam Ward made more even strength saves than Ilya Bryzgalov. He’s one of the underrated goaltenders in the league and was a big reason why Phoenix made the playoffs two consecutive years. His failings in this year’s postseason are a major factor in why his Coyotes failed to win a single game, and its interesting that the Flyers would go after Bryzgalov considering his sub-.900 save percentage at EV in the playoffs.
But more importantly, is it really beneficial for teams to spend a lot of their bank in goal? I think a lot of proponents for the superstar goalie may mention that Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas, both All-Stars and Olympians, are in a terrific Stanley Cup Finals battle, but, in reality, the two goalies are 8th and 10th on the list of goalies with the highest cap numbers this season. The number is skewed, as the best goaltenders aren’t the highest paid goaltenders. A few of the goalies high on that list have been signed to what I can best describe as “reputation” or “reward” contracts to guys who were lucky enough to play behind Stanley Cup-winning teams.
Luongo and Thomas are not just the 8th and 10th highest-paid goalies in the game, but are also the highest paid goaltenders on teams to have won a playoff series this season. You’d be hard-pressed to find a tangible benefit to overpaying for a goaltender in the salary cap era. Since the lockout, the goaltender for the winning Stanley Cup team has posted a save percentage of .916, which was the same posting this season as Jose Theodore, Devan Dubnyk, Ryan Miller, Niklas Backstrom, and, hey, Brian Boucher of the Flyers, and a point about Sergei Bobrovsky.
I’ve been using a formula for the past year to calculate the value of a goaltender which is simply weighting his save percentage with his minutes played. To get the same value as Bobrovsky last season of approximately $178,000 per win (8th among starting goalies), Bryzgalov would have to be paid at $2,675,000, which is not likely.
So while the Flyers have supposedly had a question mark in goal since Ron Hextall, you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that they can’t win with what they have. Bobrovsky proved himself this season to be capable if anything, even if his playoff record doesn’t speak for that. There’s no reason he can’t be this team’s goalie going forward, particularly since his save percentage was just two points lower than Bryzgalov’s.
Already on the hook for just under $59M so far for the 2011/12 season, the Flyers would have to give up a lot for what Bryzgalov is asking. With the only moveable contracts on the roster as Claude Giroux, Kris Versteeg and Braydon Coburn, the Flyers are probably better off cutting their losses, letting Bryzgalov walk, and not pulling him whenever he manages to get into trouble.