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Fan’s take: Will the Flyers trade Sergei Bobrovsky if they sign Ilya Bryzgalov?
The Philadelphia Flyers acquired the rights to the Phoenix Coyotes pending free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) this week. It's obvious that they intend to sign him. What is not so certain is how many players salaries will need to be dumped after they do so.
This Russian rookie wasn't even on the radar screen as of this time last year. But, as the season neared, former starter Michael Leighton(notes) was unable to play due to injury issues. Then, rookie goalie Johan Backlund(notes) was eliminated from the goalie mix with health issues of his own.
I saw Bobrovsky playing on the Phantom's side of the Flyer's practice facility last September in Voorhees, New Jersey. I was taken by surprise at how quick this unknown player was and thought he might 'someday' be somebody.
Most people, including myself and maybe even the Flyers themselves, never thought that he would be their opening game starter. Sure enough, he was.
One year wonder?
Bobrovsky went on to have a fine regular season, going 28-13-8. He did that by posting a 2.59 GAA and by having a .915 save percentage. He was mostly steady, acrobatic and had an assertive Flyers mentality in the crease.
It seemed as though his workload and rigors of the season wore on him by the time spring arrived. Also, teams seemed to be exploiting his weakness of crouching very low in the net when they scored an increasing number of goals high over his shoulders. Then, he wasn't ready for the playoffs and it showed.
However, with his talent, adjustments could be made to his style going forward. That is how careers grow.
Bye bye Bob?
Bobrovsky is scheduled to make $1.75 million during each of the next two seasons. So, cap issues would be one reason why he might be traded. But, the greater issue might simply be a change in organizational philosophy.
Ed Snider, Paul Holmgren and the remainder of the Flyers brain trust certainly seem to have decided that the thirty-year old Bryzgalov is going to be their man in goal. They will likely offer him somewhere over $5 million per year, for five years to prove that point.
Bobrovsky will turn 23 in September and many NHL teams would have to be interested in a young, inexpensive goalie. He has trade value and could be moved on his own, or packaged with a higher salaried teammate.
If the Flyers sign Bryzgalov, he could serve as Bobrovsky's mentor. The team could hedge their bets and keep their one-year wonder just in case Bryzgalov falters for some reason. However, the option of trading 'Bob' is a real one.
I became a Flyers fan during the 1970s. I met Dave Schultz during his "Hammer" days, consider street hockey to be the winter version of wiffle ball, remember Gene Hart as the best there ever was and wore an all-black mesh team jersey to school to honor Pelle's life after that November day. Follow me on Twitter @SeanyOB
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