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Money Is A Problem And Stopping The Puck Is Making It Worse

Philadelphia Flyers – Money Is A Problem And Stopping The Puck Is Making It Worse

These are a big few weeks for the NHL. The award show went off without any major flubs last night in Las Vegas but sadly without too much fan fare. The draft is coming up this weekend in Minnesota and the rumor mills are churning with what team will draft who and what team will sign whom during the free agency frenzy.

The Philadelphia Flyers have already made a big splash as they always seem to do every off season. For the past two decades, the Flyers have had arguably some of the best teams in the league but just haven’t been able to get over that hump and lift the Cup. It all comes down to who they have had between the pipes. I could go through all the names but Flyers’ fans may not want me to go that route. More importantly, to add to the Flyers’ goaltender story, it is reported that they will sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a seven year 50 million dollar contact. Bryzgalov will be earning around 7.14 million per year. After coming to terms with that number, I am still shocked that Bryzgalov will be the highest paid goaltender in the league.

With the Bryzgalov signing, the Flyers will have three goaltenders signed to NHL contracts. Sergei Bobrovsky, the savior of last year, has two years left at 1.75 million per year. The playoff hero, well sort of, Michael Leighton has a year left at 1.55 million and Brian Boucher hasn’t signed yet. The Flyers will be paying their goaltenders approximately 10.44 million next season. The NHL will announce that the salary cap will increase to 64 million for next season which means the Flyers will be paying almost 16% of their salary to their goaltenders.

If you include Bryzgalov, the Flyers’ payroll will be over 66 million which means they will be over the reported cap of 64 million even before the season starts. Dan Carcillo, Ville Leino and Nick Boynton are still yet to be signed. But that’s another story for the Philadelphia brass to figure out. Let’s get back to the goaltenders.

First, let us compare the percentage of salary spent on goaltenders as compared to the each teams’ total salaries. Obviously not all the teams have solidified their goaltending ranks like the Flyers have or even have signed all their forwards or defencemen. Also, I have done simple math, by taking the salaries of goaltenders signed and dividing that number by total salaries of all the signed players for 2011-12 season.

Tampa Bay, Colorado, Phoenix and Florida are the only teams that haven’t signed their starting goaltenders from the end of last season. Tampa Bay and Colorado still do not have any goaltenders signed.

The order in which the teams appear are in rank of highest to lowest total salaries, or in other terms the least cap remaining. PAS is percentage of total goaltender salaries against total salaries for all NHL players under contract for the 2011-12 season and GS is goaltenders signed.

Philadelphia Flyers - 15.8% PAS - 3 GS - Playoffs Yes
Calgary Flames - 11.7% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs No
Pittsburgh Penguins - 9.9 % PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs Yes
Chicago Blackhawks - 6.1% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs Yes
San Jose Sharks - 11.1% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs Yes
Boston Bruins - 12.0% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs Yes
New Jersey Devils - 9.9% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs No
Minnesota Wild - 11.7% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs No
Washington Capitals - 2.2% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs Yes
Anaheim Ducks - 12.1% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs Yes
Detroit Red Wings - 4.7% PAS - 1 GS - PlayoffsYes
Los Angeles Kings - 6.4% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs Yes
Vancouver Canucks - 13.6% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs Yes
Buffalo Sabres - 13.9% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs Yes
Ottawa Senators - 7.1% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs No
Montreal Canadiens - 6.3% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs Yes
New York Rangers - 18.4 % PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs Yes
Toronto Maple Leafs - 7.6% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs No
St. Louis Blues - 9.2% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs No
Nashville Predators - 10.5% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs Yes
Dallas Stars - 10.8% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs No
Columbus Blue Jackets - 7.7% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs No
Edmonton Oilers - 12.2% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs No
Tampa Bay Lightning - 0.0% PAS - 0 GS - Playoffs Yes
New York Islanders - 16.3% PAS - 3 GS - Playoffs No
Winnipeg - 8.4% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs No
Colorado Avalanche - 0.0% PAS - 0 GS - Playoffs No
Phoenix Coyotes - 3.9% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs Yes
Carolina Hurricanes - 21.9% PAS - 2 GS - Playoffs No
Florida Panthers - 6.5% PAS - 1 GS - Playoffs No

Only the Rangers, Hurricanes and Islanders pay their goaltenders a higher percentage of their total salaries than the Flyers do. The Rangers have the great Henrik Lundqvist and the Hurricanes have Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward. The Islanders have, well let’s be honest, bad ownership and have made lots of bad decisions. All three are in the bottom half of salaries for the next season meaning they have lots of salary cap room and their percentage salary paid to their goaltenders will drop before the season starts.

Now let’s look at Ilya Bryzgalov individually and where he ranks in comparison to the other goaltenders in the league. Last season, he played in 68 games with 36 wins, 20 losses, 10 overtime losses and a goals against average of 2.48. His save percentage was .921 and he recorded seven shutouts.

Bryzgalov was tied for sixth place in wins with Carey Price and Roberto Luongo having 38 wins. He was sixteenth in goals against average with Tim Thomas leading the league allowing only two goals on average per game. He was tenth in the league in save percentage once again trailing Tim Thomas. He did play in 68 games which ranks him fifth behind Cam Ward’s 74 and he was tied for fourth behind Henrik Lundqvist eleven shutouts.

So do all these stats make him the best goaltender in the league? Does it make him a top ten goaltender in the league? It absolutely doesn’t. Do all these stats justify Bryzgalov being the highest paid goaltender in the league? Absolutely not!

Roberto Luongo, Tim Thomas and Pekka Rinne were the nominees for the Vezina with Thomas winning the award. If you poll any GM or even any hockey fan, they will tell you that all three are better than Bryzgalov. Luongo will be making 5.33 million until 2011. After his up and down performance in the playoffs everyone in the entire NHL believes he had the worst contract. Thomas, the Conn Smythe trophy winner will be making 5 million per year for the next two seasons. Rinne will be making 3.4 million next season.

Roberto Luongo - 5.33 Million next season
Tim Thomas - 5.00 Million next season
Pekka Rinne - 3.40 Million next season
Miikka Kiprusoff - 5.83 Million next season
Marc-Andre Fluery - 5.00 Million next season
Martin Broduer - 5.25 Million next season
Nicklas Backstrom - 6.00 Million next season
Ryan Miller - 6.25 Million next season
Carey Price - 2.75 Million next season
Henrik Lundqvist - 6.85 Million next season
Cam Ward - 6.30 Million next season

I have only included what arguably NHL minds believe to be better goaltenders than Ilya Bryzgalov and I am sure you can add more and younger, newer ones will appear on this list very soon.

Bryzgalov is 31 years old and has a career record of 156 wins, 116 losses, 35 overtime losses, 23 shutouts, a goals against average of 2.53 and a save percentage of .916. Philadelphia will argue that they had to overpay for him now and when the contracts of the other better goaltenders come due, they will all get significantly higher salaries. I argue that Bryzgalov’s contract will be the single biggest reason why goaltender’s salaries go up. The Flyers will argue that the salary cap will go up so in turn all goaltender’s salaries will go up. Well Luongo is signed for another decade so his won’t. The Flyers will argue that they haven’t had a real goaltender in two decades and that they needed to over pay to get one. That I will agree with but not for Bryzgalov.

I will argue that this is a bad deal. I will argue that they over paid for a mediocre goaltender who hasn’t done anything in the playoffs. I will argue that this will change the landscape for all goaltender’s contract that come due next off season. I will argue that all the other 29 general managers are slightly angry at the Flyers’ brass but then again when isn’t that true. So you can take my argument for what its’ worth and agree or disagree with me. I guess only time will tell whether Ilya Bryzgalov is a success or not. All I can say is that he has one hell of an agent.

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Shahab Khan the Schoolboy


Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Wow, this is unreal. They are insane for paying this much. I think they really handicapped themselves for the next 7 years. This deal will either make or break this team and considering what they gave up, I am leaning towards break.

The Flyers have just traded Richards to LA for Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.

Shahab Khan's picture

Getting rid of Carter and Richards - wow huge trades today for the short run it makes them worse but maybe in the long run it will help

still doesn't change my mind about what I said about Ilya

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Bryz is a great goalie, problem is he is and the East is a more offensive free for all than the west. Im not sure how this will pan out, but some ballsy moves today.

Shahab Khan's picture

Bryzgalov just got 9 years for 51 million - 5.66 mill per year - which doesn't make him the highest paid goalternder...

but his deal ends around the same time as Luongo's does!