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Bryzgalov seeks return to NHL through Vegas

The SportsXchange

Former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will play in the East Coast Hockey League for the Las Vegas Wranglers on a professional tryout.

Bryzgalov, 33, wound up in Las Vegas after he was unable to land a job with an NHL team after the Flyers bought out his nine-year, $51 million contract in July.

The 33-year-old netminder passed a physical for Las Vegas, which is an unaffiliated ECHL club two levels below the NHL.

"(Wrangers head coach and GM) Mike Madill's passion for the game, his team, and his excitement about training camp were a big part of the reason why I chose to participate in the Wranglers training camp," Bryzgalov said in a statement issued by the team. "Having missed camp this year, an experience like this is critical for me to be ready for NHL play, and I can't wait to get on the ice.

"Everyone's motivation here is largely driven by an unparalleled passion for the game, and this will offer me a very interesting perspective and be a great opportunity for me to reflect on why I started playing this great game in the first place. It's going to be something very special, and I expect I will learn as much from this experience as any other I have had in my career."

Three years ago, Bryzgalov was a candidate for the Vezina Trophy. Now he's trying to make it back to the NHL through the low minors.

Last season, the veteran finished with a 19-17-3 record, a 2.79 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. His NHL career record stands at 208-149-45.

"To be clear, I intend to return to the NHL, and to be ready for game action when an NHL opportunity opens up," he said. "I intend to work hard while I am here in Las Vegas, and to return the support I have received from my family, the many fans who have reached out to me with words of encouragement, and the Wranglers organization with actions, not words.

"This is a unique opportunity for me to be an example to my own children, to the young fans who have supported me, to my new teammates, and eventually to the NHL teammates who will come to rely on me again."
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