Can the Flyers afford Ilya Bryzgalov?



(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.

  • OilFan

    I would target Philly. They wouldn’t have traded for his right if they weren’t intent on signing IB. We should be looking at “helping” our good friends in Philly. And by help I mean lets ask Phily for thier first round pick this year and whatever contract they want to get rid of. Except Briers. Who cares who it is. Braydon Colbourn would do nicely thank you very much. Philly cant bury a contract.No cap space. Wait till draft day and put the screws to them.

  • striker777

    Philly has quite a few decent players, Hartnell being first on my list. I just hope other mangers realize Philly will NOT be negotiating from a position of strength.

  • OilFan

    ‘With the only moveable contracts on the roster as Claude Giroux, Kris Versteeg and Braydon Coburn’

    for hemsky?

    or hemsky+ 31st. gives them 6 mill for their goalie keeps their superstars together and swaps setup men for carter

  • Agree Hartnell would look good in oil silks. I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing in Briere if Horcoff was going the other way. Gives philly cap space and us an improvement at the number 1 centre spot. It could be exciting Hall/Briere/Eberle and Paajarvi/Gagner/Hemsky. I realize it doesn’t help our need for more size in our top 6.

  • Cap? The NHL is a gate driven league and the cap is tied to league wide revenues. Including the national TV contracts in both the US and Canada. Good news. Better news is that the Winnipeg Jets are now back and the gate revenues will increase. 6/10 teams in terms of generating revenue are Canadian.Add Winnipeg and it will be 7/10. My point is that that teams like the Flyers rely on us poor scmucks to subsidize thier spending stupidity by continuing to fill the arenas across Canada each and every game. The cap has gone up every season since the lockout. From 45 million to 61? next year. Thats more than a 33% increase in the cap in 6 years? 5% raise a year is not a bad deal for the players. How many teams were spending 60 million dollars a year before the lockout? 10? Now we probably have half the league and the other half forced to spend atleast 45 million a year. The players and thier agents should be estatic. If I am them I would renew the CBA as soon as I can. The scary thought is how much the cap is going to rise when Bettman and company decide to move Pheonix to Quebec City and give Jim I got all the Balls-illy a franchise for southern Ontario.Line up the Billionaires because this league no longer can afford to have owners with only a few hundred million in thier pockets. Cap? What Cap?

  • Michael you may want to get a little more informed before making comments such as “My point is that that teams like the Flyers rely on us poor scmucks to subsidize thier spending stupidity by continuing to fill the arenas across Canada each and every game.”

    You do know that the Flyers are the 4th highest revenue team in the NHL right? You do know that the Flyers revenue is 40% higher than the Oilers right? You do know that the Flyers are 3rd overall for attendance right?

    Don’t paint all US teams with the same broad paint brush. There are many successful American teams.