Better With Popcorn

Reports: Ilya Bryzgalov to Be Bought Out

After numerous reports said the same thing it looks like the Flyers may be parting ways with their controversial goaltender.

Bob McKenzie of TSN, The Fourth Period, and now Comcast SportsNet have all reported that the Flyers could be buying out netminder Ilya Bryzgalov. After two years of headache-filled hockey, Bryzgalov may be getting cut loose, freeing up some much-needed salary cap space as the Flyers look to rebound from missing the post season.

Tim Pinaccio sums up the last two months perfectly, when it seemed all but certain the Flyers were set to go into the 2013-14 season with a two-goalie system.

"Despite a solid endorsement from club chairman Ed Snider in late March, followed by a more tepid one in May, the Flyers have begun an internal discussion on whether to add Bryzgalov to the two compliance buyouts this summer, according to sources within the team."

In 2011-12, Bryzgalov posted a 33-16-7 with a 2.48 GAA and .909 save percentage, a fairly mediocre season after signing a 9-year, $51 million contract. Instead of having a better season in the shortened 2013 campaign, Bryzgalov was run ragged and wound up with even worse numbers.

Bryzgalov was inconsistent all season, finishing up with a 19-17-3 record, 2.79 GAA and .900 save percentage. Those numbers were 36th and 43rd in the league respectively.

The thought of buying out Bryzgalov became a possible reality back at the trade deadline when the Flyers acquired Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets. With Mason's strong play in his seven starts (1.90 GAA and .944 save percentage), he instantly earned sum favor within the organization and fan base.

The problem with buying out Bryzgalov though will be the fact it puts the Flyers back at the beginning of their goaltending problems. Instead of attempting a season with a pair of competent goaltenders, a point I brought up in TCL Flyers' inaugural podcast, the Flyers are going to throw a lot of pressure on Mason while they search for a competent back-up.

There are a handful of names out there on the unrestricted free agent list that includes Nikolai Khabibulin, former Flyer Ray Emery, Mike Smith, or even highly sought-after Niklas Backstrom. Even restricted free agent Jonathan Bernier has become a sought-after option, but he will cost the Flyers draft picks.

All in all, cutting ties with Bryzgalov is going to be a big step once again, especially after the big step they took in acquiring him two years ago. Maybe this time the Flyers will know what direction they want to go in when they do make the decision.

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Follow John Russo (@Roose_TCL) and the site (@TCLFlyers) on Twitter.

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