If you plan to become rich in the NHL perhaps you should look into changing your name to Ilya. For the second consecutive summer, players with the name have seen big money and big contracts while coincidentally playing in the same division. Last year, it was the Kovalchuk saga which saw the then 27-year-old sign a 15-year $100 million with the New Jersey Devils. This year, Ilya Bryzgalov joins the fun, signing a nine-year $51 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers a week before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
The Flyers acquired Bryz’s rights on June 7 in exchange for Matt Clackson, a third-round draft pick in 2012, and a conditional draft pick. Since then, he had been spotted wearing Flyers paraphernalia as an agreement between him and the team seemed imminent. In order to make room for their new no.1 goalie, the team traded away Jeff Carter and captain Mike Richards clearing enough space to see Bryz earn $10 million next year with cap hit of $5,666,667. That number makes him the highest paid goalie in the league leapfrogging Roberto Luongo who makes $5,333,333 per season. Here is the breakdown by year thanks to TSN’s Bob Mckenzie
Bryzgalov becomes just the second Russian netminder in the history of the franchise with his new teammate (and potential back-up) Sergei Bobrovsky being the first. Should Bobrovsky stick around they would become the first all-Russian goalie tandem in the history of the NHL. He would also be one of the league’s highest paid backups with a cap hit of $1.75 million which seems kind of extravagant playing second fiddle to a guy who has not appeared in less than 65 games in the last 3 years.
While the older and wiser Bryzgalov could serve as a great mentor for a fellow young countrymen, would it be something he would be interested in? Coming from someone who did not want to play for Russia at the World’s this year unless he was no.1 sharing does not seem to be what Bryzgalov is here for. With his arrival, the Flyers now have the security they have greatly desired in net but it takes much more than one or even two good Russian goalies to get them to the promiseland. With the departure of a leader plus a one-time 40-goal scorer it should be quite the season in Philly.
The Flyers now have their big-name goalie for the foreseeable future, but how will the city react should he not perform to their standards or his big contract? Should Bryzgalov help return the team to Stanley Cup glory, look for the Philly Cheese Bryz to hit menus everywhere.