Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren dropped more than a few juicy nuggets during a conversation with ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, speaking about how to get the team back on track next season.
(We especially liked the discussion about Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier failing to elevate their games as sophomores after such promise in their rookie seasons, which has been an under-reported aspect of the season.)
But when it comes to the Flyers this summer, it all tracks back to two men and their futures with the team: Coach Peter Laviolette and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Holmgren indicated that Laviolette isn’t in trouble, and that “we need to sit down at talk at the end of the year and figure out a way to get back” into the playoffs.
As for Bryzgalov, he’s … also safe?
He’s been the target of immense speculation about the Flyers buying out the remainder of his 9-year, $51-million contract that runs through 2020. Yet Holmgren told ESPN that there’s no basis for any speculation that the Flyers will buy out Bryzgalov.
Via LeBrun, on the subject of the Flyers’ acquisition of Steve Mason from Columbus at the trade deadline:
"Steve is a guy that we've liked. When the opportunity came up to make the trade for him, it was the intention of having good goaltending," Holmgren said. "I think right now with Ilya and Steve, we've got good goaltending moving forward. Any talk of anything other than that I think is out of bounds."
The point, Holmgren said, is to protect Bryzgalov next season so he doesn't have to play too many games.
"Ilya played a lot of games this year, but he's not going to play 82 games next season," Holmgren said. "You need a guy that can go in.”
It certainly sounds like Holmgren expects Bryz to be part of the mix next season, despite all the logical reasons to buy him out.
Which leaves you wondering who makes the ultimate decisions on a player with a 9-year, $51-million contract: Both in acquiring that player and deciding when his tenure should end with the team.