Better With Popcorn

On Ryan and Bernier: Is It Worth the Risk?

On Tuesday, the rumor mill concerning the Philadelphia Flyers blew up.

Not only was it confirmed by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that forward Danny Briere would be bought out, but conflicting reports about goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov's security with the team surfaced, as well as trade rumors involving Anaheim's Bobby Ryan and Los Angeles' Jonathan Bernier also came to the forefront.

Talk about a crazy day.

All of this coming on the heels of a reported deal struck with the New York Islanders to acquire their former captain Mark Streit. Streit signed a bloated four year pact worth a grand total of $22 million. Following that deal, it signaled change. There is writing on the wall...but for whom?

If, for example, both Briere and Bryzgalov are bought out, that unlocks about $12 million in cap space. The Flyers are currently above the new cap ceiling of $64 million by $7 million. These moves would not afford a ton of room, but it would at least be something.

Additionally, Chris Pronger's horridly long contract will come off the books thanks to the Long Term Injured Reserve list, freeing another $5 million or so.

That space might be enough to perhaps nab the big winger Ryan (two years at $5.1 million) or the burgeoning goaltender Bernier (RFA).

Either move could change the dynamic of the team completely. Ryan could add size and scoring ability to the top line, and Bernier could potentially be a legitimate starter in this league.

Ultimately, for any of this to happen, a decision must be made on the character that is 32-year-old Bryzgalov.

What happened? What went wrong? This was a man posting Vezina-type numbers in Phoenix just three years ago, highly regarded as the goaltending prize of the 2011 offseason.

Bryzgalov switched agents during his UFA year to Ritch Winter. That move alone put all General Managers on notice—Bryz wanted money. A lot of it. He got $51 million. Not bad.

A report surfaced from Jeff Rimer of Sportsnet Canada that Winter received a call from Holmgren saying that Bryzgalov was safe. Other reporters corroborated that claim.

It took just a few hours for Holmgren to fire back, saying that he said no such thing. It begins. Brings back memories of Jeff Carter's security with the Flyers just a few short years ago.

Nonetheless, tremendous risk exists with buying out Bryzgalov to potentially make a move on either Bernier or Ryan. Both moves require moving parts, and giving up quality to get quality.

Reportedly, a deal for Bernier will require giving up Matt Read or Jakub Voracek as well as the 11th overall pick. A deal for Ryan would involve Braydon Coburn and the 11th overall pick.

In any deal worth making, not only is risk involved, but quality is involved too. Why would the Kings want to roll over and just let Bernier go without getting a quality asset in return? Same goes for the Ducks. Both teams would not be jettisoning chopped liver.

Additionally, a different dynamic emerges if Bryzgalov is bought out. The team has no starter.

If Steve Mason is anyone's idea of a quality starting goaltender, they need to get their eyes checked. Minus his seven game stint with the Flyers, ever since Mason won the Calder trophy, he has a record of 63-79-20, a goals against average of 3.10 and a save percentage of .898.

His 4-2-0 record, .944 save percentage and 1.90 GAA with the Flyers is simply unsustainable, and it came at a part of the season where the Flyers were already eliminated, playing in low pressure situations with a piecemeal defense in front of him.

In 62 games as a King, Jonathan Bernier has a record of 29-20-6, including a .912 career save percentage, and a goals against average of 2.36.

Having seen him personally, Bernier plays big, blocks pucks, and never seems out of position. He's a monumental leap above Mason. There is no question.

If the Flyers make any move this summer between Ryan or Bernier, it makes more sense at this point to pursue Bernier after a Bryzgalov buyout. It might be time to start over at that position completely and go with short-term contracts for both. None of this mega-money, mega-term deal nonsense. That creates a ton of issues.

If the Flyers have faith in Voracek as a top line complement to Claude Giroux, and it seems they do, why make a move for Ryan? Just because he's from Cherry Hill, NJ?

Did the Rangers want James van Riemsdyk because he was their fan? That whole dynamic doesn't make sense. No doubt Ryan has a bevy of talent, but it would be better served elsewhere.

In sum, a lot of rumors will swirl around the Flyers this offseason. It may not be that they truly need change after a bad year, but the organizational philosophy demands change after a bad year. 48 games or not, missing the playoffs is a problem to this proud group.

Buyouts can be executed 48 hours after the Stanley Cup is hoisted. Prepare yourselves. This is going to be crazy.


Follow Jordan Kuhns (@playsbykuhns) and the site (@TCLFlyers) on Twitter.

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