Flyers acquire rights to Ilya Bryzgalov

By JAY BOEHMER
Senior Hockey Insider — jboehmer@highhopesblog.com
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The Flyers have traded for the rights to negotiate with former Vezina candidate Ilya Bryzgalov. (Courtesy Philly.com)

Paul Holmgren took the first step in ending the goaltending mystery today, acquiring the rights to sign Ilya Bryzgalov from Phoenix.

The Flyers gave up Matt Clackson, a 2012 third round pick, and a conditional pick on the grounds that they sign him.

That gives the Flyers until July 1st to negotiate a deal with him that fits Bryzgalov under the cap – keeping in mind other pieces they yet need to sign.

Last year, they failed to do the same with defenseman Dan Hamhuis after trading for his rights.

The 30-year-old goaltender has led the Phoenix Coyotes to the playoffs in consecutive years, and was a Vezina candidate in 2010.

He’s the right age for where the Flyers are right now – he’s not too old that the four or five year deal he’s sure to want would be too long, and he’s not so young that a deal like that would push Sergei Bobrovsky out of the picture for good.

Paul Holmgren said that he still sees Bobrovsky as the goalie of the future.

“I still think the world of Sergei and I think he’s one of the top young goalies in our game,” he said. “As I said at the end of the year, we continue to try to make our team better. Right now the position we’ve put ourselves in, negotiating with Ilya, if we can get him signed, it’ll make our team better.”

Bryzgalov can provide the Flyers with elite goaltending for the next few years, all the while mentoring and grooming Bobrovsky for a possible takeover of the number one spot.

The Russian connection is also of great help to Bobrovsky, with a chance to work closely with the only other Flyer who would be speaking his native tongue.

Holmgren is excited about the possibility of adding a top tier goaltender to an already impressive Flyers’ roster.

“The last few years in Phoenix, I think he’s probably the one of the reasons – probably the biggest reason – why they became a playoff team the last two years,” he said. “You can make the argument that he’s among the top ten goalies in the league, if not higher.

“We’re happy to get this opportunity to talk to him early and we’re going to try our best to get him signed.”

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