Is Bryzgalov the missing piece?
The Flyers acquired the rights to Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov for a 2012 third-round pick and the rights to Matt Clackson on Tuesday night. The Flyers will also give a conditional pick (not a first- or second-rounder) if they sign Bryzgalov, who had an excellent regular season but struggled in the playoffs (0-4, 4.36 GAA, .879 save percentage) this season.
Here is the transcript of GM Paul Holmgren's conference call with reporters after the deal was announced Tuesday:
Q: Are you confident that you can sign Bryzgalov?
"We're going to give it our best shot. Obviously we gave up an asset to get a chance to get in early so we have every intention of trying our best to get a deal done."
Q: I spoke to Rich Winter yesterday for quite a while and he wants four or five years. Are you willing to go that far with Bryzgalov?
"Well, we'll see what we can do. He's certainly not an old goaltender. He's 30 or 31 years old. I feel like he's got a lot of good years left in him. We'll see how it goes. When you get into a negotiation like this, you're dealing with a salary cap, you try to get a number you can live with. We'll see."
Q: Would you have to part with one of your pieces up front in order to make this work and are you comfortable doing that?
"Well, once we know what the salary cap is going to be next year, we'll have a better idea what we need to do down the road. We have options. We'll just see how it goes."
Q: Do you think it's possible to sign Bryzgalov and Ville Leino, or if you sign Bryzgalov would it be almost impossible to re-sign Ville?
"I don't know, Sam. Obviously we still have the intention of trying to sign Ville. With the salary cap, you can only do so much. We're trying to get the best team we can get to get ready for the 2011 season. We'll see how it goes. There's a lot of things that need to happen between now and July 1. We're going to see what we can do."
Q: Can he mentor Sergei Bobrovsky?
"I don't know him that well – in fact I hardly know him at all. Just from talking to some of our guys… when Chris Pronger and Sean O'Donnell played with him, he was a young kid behind [J.S.] Giguere. Some of the information we have on him from his days in Phoenix, it's all good. He's a team guy, and he must have gotten along pretty well with the guy who was playing behind him in Phoenix. I don't see an issue with that. I think the fact that they're both Russians probably would help."
Q: Do you ever know when you go into this what you're looking at in terms of money and length of contract?
"I probably don't know now. We have some ideas we'll bounce around… I'm sure Ilya's agent has some ideas of his own that he wants to bounce around. We'll see if we can get a deal done. We got our foot in the door now, we have some time to look at certain things and try to work through the issues and get a deal."
Q: Are you comfortable negotiating before the actual salary cap number for next season is known?
"I'm not sure it matters, Frank. We kind of have an idea what it is, we don't know the exact number but we do have an idea what it's going to be. Obviously because of our tagging space right now, I don't know that we could sign a guy right now, at this time – for the same reason we couldn't sign Ville at this time. We'll do what we can do, and as I continue to say, try to get a deal done. We didn't make this trade to acquire his rights just to try to hang around. We're going to try our best to get him signed."
Q: What's the conditional pick?
"I'm not going to talk about it just because it's a moot point right now, and when it happens, it happens. It's not a first round pick or a second round pick, so you can go from there."
Q: Is that the reason you did this now instead of waiting closer to the draft, so you do have the time to hammer out something?
"You never know what's going to happen. You gamble and wait till July 1, you don't know who else is involved. This gives us negotiating rights, which nobody else has. Is it an advantage? I don't know. At least we get first crack at it, and we'll see what we can do.
Q: What does this deal mean for Bobrovsky? Do you still see him as the goalie of the future?
"I don't know. We'll see if we can get a deal done with Ilya. I still think the world of Sergei and I think he's one of the top young goalies in our game. Having said that, and again 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."
Q: There's been a perception outside the organization for years that the flyers haven't invested a lot in goaltending. Inside the organization, does that end the discussion if you sign him, that you have made an investment in goaltending?
We're trying to get better, as we try to do every year. Our idea is to put ourselves in the position to win the Stanley Cup. We haven't really had an opportunity to talk to Ilya's agent yet. Once we get the ball rolling there, we'll see if we can get him signed. If we do, I think we'll have one of the best goaltending tandems in the league. I feel confident in saying that, anyway.
Q: What interests you about Bryzgalov?
"Well, you look at how he played not only when he was in Anaheim, but the last few years in Phoenix, I think he's probably one of the reason, probably the biggest reason why they became a playoff team the last two years, with his play in the regular season. I know last season he and his team took Detroit to seven games in a hard-fought series, and this year was obviously not as good for Phoenix in the playoffs, but he's one of the better goalies in the league. You can make the argument that he's among the top 10 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."
Q: Ed Snider was pretty adamant that he didn't want to go through another season like this again with the goalies. How much did that weigh in on this?
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to field a good team. We want to win a Stanley Cup. We're trying to make ourselves better in all areas. We're going to give it our best shot."
Q: Are you comfortable exceeding the salary cap once it's announced, like you did last year?
"We'll see, Frank. It's not a comfortable spot to be in. The more you get into the summer, the more difficult it becomes to move money. We'll see how it goes."
Q: You said you could not sign Bryzgalov until the new cap is announced – is that correct?
"Unless we made some kind of a deal."
Q: In the past you've had success doing this obviously with Kimmo and Scott Hartnell, and it didn't quite work out last year with Dan Hamhuis. What point in your mind do you say we have to get this done or move on to something else, or do you not worry about that at this point?
"I'm not really too worried about it right now. I think we have some time. Ideally before you get to the draft, you'd like to know if you have a deal in place, and then we'll see what we can do at the draft in order to – if we need to make some adjustments or whatever. As long as we sense over a period of time that we're making some progress, I don't feel uncomfortable going late into June 30."
Q: Is it the goal to do this and keep the team, at least the core players, intact?
"[We have some] good pieces that you need to win a Stanley Cup. In acquiring Ilya, we have an opportunity here to negotiate a contract and get him signed sort of ahead of other teams that might have had those same ideas in mind. So we'll see what we can do. If we can agree to a deal, and then necessary adjustments in order to get him in the salary cap, I think we'll still have a good team – if not better.
Q: If you're able to sign him, do you think he'll have a good impact on Bobrovsky?
"I would assume he had a good relationship with his [other] goaltender in Phoenix. From what I can gather talking to Chris Pronger and Sean O'Donnell about his time in Anaheim, he was sort of behind Giguere when they won the Stanley Cup. He was in a little bit of a different role, but he was a good kid, certainly no issues that we hear of with the guy. He's a good goalie, and I think the fact that they're both Russian can't hurt.
Q: When Ilya was in Phoenix he had a pretty significant workload. Do you see him doing that here or do you think you can pare that down just a little bit?
That's one of those things that you play by ear. I've said numerous times, that I really like Sergei and that he's got a really bright future as a Flyer, so we don't want to lose track of that. Having said that, if we can sign Ilya, he's a guy that is used to the workload. So there's a little bit of give and take there. He played 70 in Phoenix… maybe he can play 65 here with I assume easier travel than they have in Phoenix, maybe he can play more than 70. We'll just play that as it goes if we can accomplish what we need to accomplish and get him signed. First things first right now – we'll deal with that later.
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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter at twitter.com/BroadStBull.
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