Why The Flames Should Claim Ilya Bryzgalov

Two nights ago, Jonas Hiller started in goal for the Calgary Flames. His goaltending partner, Karri Ramo, worked the face-off clipboard and did not play. At this point, Hiller has been firmly established as Calgary’s top netminder. Down on the farm, Joni Ortio has been playing well, though he is now out for several weeks with a high ankle sprain.

With several teams scrambling for goaltending help down the stretch, the Flames can do themselves a favour and corner the goaltending market by doing one simple thing.

They need to claim Ilya Bryzgalov off the waiver wire.

Let’s be honest here – it’s incredibly unlikely that Karri Ramo will be a Calgary Flames player after July 1. Joni Ortio has a one-way contract for next season and the likely tandem in the NHL is Ortio and Hiller, who both have had strong stretches up here.

Down on the farm, Joni Ortio has a high ankle sprain and is expected to be out for up to 8 weeks – or until the end of the AHL’s regular season. Ortio’s back-up/mentor, veteran Brad Thiessen, has done a solid job in net for the Baby Flames and while he’s not as flashy and showy as Ortio, he’s a capable goalie. If the Baby Flames need to go forward with him as their go-to guy until the bitter end, they have a pretty good shot. I’m not certain that anybody else the Flames could acquire next week would necessarily be an upgrade on Thiessen as an AHL starter.

However, that brings us to Karri Ramo. Jhonas Enroth – who granted is younger and has less of an injury history than Ramo – netted a third and Anders Lindback on the trade market. If Enroth, whose numbers are poor, gets a pick of some manner, surely Ramo can garner something worthwhile as well. There’s always a market for goaltenders that have shown they can steal games, as Ramo has.

But with Ortio out, any Ramo deal would have to necessarily be paired with a move bringing in a goaltender. At this point, Ilya Bryzgalov is found money. He’s a known quantity. He’s obviously still in demand considering two different NHL clubs have brought him in this season. At worst, he’s a replacement level goalie who’s a bit kooky in the locker room.

Will the Flames care about “replacement level”? Probably not, as Jonas Hiller will likely get the vast, vast majority of starts from here on out. Will they care about kooky? They might, but goalies are supposed to be kooky, and it could help keep things light as they approach the finish line.

Here’s my thought process:

  • Hiller and Ortio are your goalies next season.
  • Brad Thiessen could always come back next season to back up in Stockton and potentially mentor Jon Gillies as he turns pro.
  • Karri Ramo is the odd man out, and it would make sense to continue the hockey circle of life by recouping an asset for him.
  • With a goaltending plan in place seemingly for next season, all you need is a stop-gap measure. All you need is a body.
  • Ilya Bryzgalov is a body. That you can get by merely filing the waiver fee. You are not going to get a better goaltender without spending an asset (likely a mid-round pick) to get one.
  • Oh, and potentially claiming Bryzgalov will force teams in the market for a goaltender to focus more on Ramo than they would previously, when Bryzgalov was available.

Claiming Ilya Bryzgalov – it just makes sense.

  • Burnward

    At worst, he’s a replacement level goalie who’s a bit kooky in the locker room.

    Replace the words “At worst” with the words “At best” and I agree. His numbers are well below replacement level over the last four years or so.

    You remember the pain of watching Joey MacDonald and Reto Berra last season right? Why would you bring that level of incompetence back, for any reason?

  • Couple things…

    – you’d need to deal Ramo before 10am tmr (not doing so would mean carrying 3 G’s, or losing any leverage to trade Ramo b/c you’d HAVE to move him… or waive him).

    – I doubt anyone claims Bryz anyway (playoff teams aren’t looking to take on $2.88M backups). This would apply to Ramo as well, but Flames COULD eat $ in order to get something.

    – I think (that if you wanted to go down this path) it’d be smarter to wait for Bryz to clear & then offer to take him off Ducks hands for a pick (say CGY 5th for Bryz & Ducks 3rd) while also flipping Ramo elsewhere prior to picking Bryz up.

  • KiLLKiND

    That is an interesting idea when Ortio is healthy he can play in Addy for a few weeks and then we can send down Bryz but that is only if we can trade Ramo which is looking unlikely unless we trade him to the Islanders or Washington. Johnson is struggling for New York but he has another year on his contract and Kevin Poullin looks like he isn’t an NHL goalie. Washington is the only other team I could see looking to upgrade their backup goaltending and a trade there might happen but I’m not willing to bet on it. Other teams have better long term options, Vancouver is likely shopping Markstrom and the Jets have a cheaper option in Budaij who is also proven and is hungry to get back to the NHL.

    I love Bryz and would love to see him in a Flames uni he could have some beautiful pads if he does the black style. However I think I would prefer if we didn’t claim him.

  • RCN

    in both situations you are letting an “asset” walk for nothing. in one situation you have a goalie who is far inferior to the one he is replacing.

    the flames should care about replacement level because they can’t afford to lose points and the team isn’t good enough on its own to overcome poor goaltending. add in the fact that hartley continues to go with the hot hand – legit number one guys don’t get ursurped by rookies – and I don’t see how this would make sense for the flames. makes them worse in every facet for the chance to get something for ramo. I don’t think ramo is worth enough to justify the skill deficit.

  • supra steve

    If they have a deal in place (with a decent return) for Ramo, then sure, bring in Brys as your short term backup. Especially if you can extract a late pick from the Ducks for taking him off their hands. Could be fun.

  • RexLibris

    Claiming Bryzgalov would be a minimal cost move that could mean the difference for the Flames on the playoff cut line.

    Ramo is not worth enough at the deadline to refrain from adding Bryzgalov.

    It addresses immediate need, costs virtually nothing, and shows support to your players both in Calgary and Adirondack, should Ramo be assigned to the AHL.

  • RKD

    The high voice squealing guy who talks about bears and hating Winterpeg? His game has dropped rapidly, he looked terrible with Anaheim. He gets beaten by nearly every angle and lets in a lot of soft goals. No, thanks. I know Ramo may not be part of the future equation here, but I think there are better options than Bryz. With the loss to the Ducks and Hiller getting lit up in the third period, I’m certain we will see Ramo again either in NY or NJ and if not now then later in the road trip.

  • JumpJet

    If the Flames were to claim Bryzgalov could they not send him to Addy while Ortio is injured and then call him up when they trade Ramo? I don’t think there would be a need to immediately get rid of a goalie if they were to claim Mr. Universe (best nickname, by the way).

  • RCN

    This article is very poor. There is reasons bryz and other ahl goalies don’t play in the leauge anymore. He couldn’t even keep the ducks afloat, and they’re a much better team than calgary. And hey ryan. You constantly bash ramo, who has a better evsv℅ and more shutouts than hiller in less games. Get your rose colored glasses off and maybe actually watch the games instead of chatting with other media members… Just because hiller gets paid more doesn’t mean he’s better. And Ramo has gotten 2 starts since you guaranteed him to only get 4 so I’m excired to see hiller play the last games all in a row

    • And as someone nicely pointed out above, he will be getting his 3rd start since your sweeping statement next game. Seems like you goaltending knowledge is very limited, and the way your believe management is handling this situation is pretty much pathetic.

  • One of the Flames’ biggest strengths this year has been being able to rely on their back up for a win. First time in awhile this has happened. I really like the 730/30 Hiller-Ramo mix this year. I would let it ride, not worth an extra third rounder to hurt our chance at Playoff hockey this year.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Hiller is going to play most of the games from here on out, so what difference does it make who the backup is? Bring up Theissen or even Carr if Ramo gets traded.