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Ilya Bryzgalov signs with North Pole, er, Edmonton; Oilers deal Smid

Greg Wyshynski
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What Ilya Bryzgalov has professed to know about Edmonton:

• The “November month” is minus-32 degrees.

• Eight months of the year have snow.

• It’s like the North Pole.

• We’re assuming he knows there’s a bear or two to be found in Alberta, which is important, because he’s afraid of bears in the forest.

Overall, Edmonton might not be the most desirable destination for Bryz – heck, we’re not even sure if they have parks there – but it is an NHL destination. The Oilers signed the former Philadelphia Flyers goalie to a 1-year contract. Terms were not disclosed; please keep in mind that Bryzgalov is getting $23 million to not play for the Flyers.

The Oilers, by the way, play the Flyers on Saturday.

PleaseOhPleaseOhPleaseOhPleaseStartBryz…

(Update: The Edmonton Journal thinks it's an AHL stint to start for Bryz.)

From the Oil, a Bryz primer:

The backstop won the 2007 Stanley Cup with Anaheim and earned a Bronze Medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics with Team Russia. He has played in 425 NHL games, with a win-loss record of 208-149-45. He has a career NHL goals against average of 2.55 and a save percentage of .913. The goaltender has 30 career NHL shutouts. In the playoffs, Bryzgalov has posted a record of 17-19 and has three post-season shutouts and a goals against of 2.81 and save percentage of .908.

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It’s become hockey gospel that Bryzgalov’s best years with the Phoenix Coyotes were the product of Dave Tippet’s coaching and Sean Burke’s goalie instruction, and his performance with the Flyers would seem to underscore that. (Jonathan Willis took a look at that theory in a solid post.)

This isn’t exactly fair to Bryzgalov – he went from one of the most goalie-friendly situations in the NHL to the antithesis with the Flyers. The punch lines about him, from the HBO space cadet act to the flame out of his contract, have obscured that this can be a better-than-average goalie, provided he’s motivation. And we’d say that his desire to stay in the NHL – rather than the easy cash-in with the KHL, where he played during the lockout – shows at least a glimmer of motivation.

At least that's what Craig MacTavish thinks, via the Oilers Twitter feed:

"We get a goaltender that has a history of being a high-performer... and we get a guy that's very motivated."

From Bruce McCurdy on the Oilers’ goaltending situation with Bryz:

Meanwhile the Oilers suddenly find themselves with FOUR goalies on the roster. Richard Bachman is on IR, but Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera remain active, along with the incoming Bryzgalov. It makes for an unstable situation to say the least. If there isn’t another trade in the works, look for LaBarbera to be placed on waivers shortly.

The Oilers, meanwhile, opened up space for Bryz by trading defenseman Ladislav Smid to the Calgary Flames with minor-league goaltender Olivier Roy in exchange for goaltender Laurent Brossoit and forward Roman Horak.

Copper and Blue’s reaction is priceless:

You know what the problem is! The problem is that the Oilers have once again traded an established NHL player for once again guys who, if we're very lucky, will become nearly as good as Smid, once again sacrificing play at a position where they absolutely cannot afford to sacrifice it, all once again out of the hope that something good will somehow come of trading decent players for inferior ones. We have finally reached the point which people like me have been warning of for seven years, where the young players that we acquired because we had to trade our veterans have become veterans we have to trade to acquire young players.

Yeah, that about sums it.

Hey, if nothing else, Bryzgalov will made the death spiral back to the lottery more entertaining, and takes the pressure off of Dallas Eakins to be the best quote in the Oilers’ room.

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