Where could Ilya Bryzgalov land?
Bryzgalov has $1.35 million left in what is the final year of his contract; it's a number that could be good and bad for teams depending on how much they like him. Some teams, who wouldn't mind some extra stability in net but are too close to the cap ceiling, won't be able to entertain the thought of picking of Bryzgalov.
Still, there are other teams who are already showing a weakness in net over the first quarter of the season. Here's a look at where Bryzgalov could land, in no particular order of need. If they're going to go after him, they need to do it before 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, when Bryzgalov can clear the waiver period. If he does, he's off to Portland.
Before the new season even began, many hockey pundits were including the phrase "as long as Marc-Andre Fleury delivers ..." in their 2007-08 outlooks. Well, the questions are still there. While Sidney Crosby (28 points) and Evgeni Malkin (26 points) have been doing their part, neither Fleury nor Dany Sabourin has been a rock in net for the Penguins. Fleury, the designated No. 1, started the season with five straight starts and a 2-3-0 record. Since then, the two goalies have played tag team. Fleury has a 5-7-0 record and a 3.54 goals-against average; only Alex Auld (3.54), Vesa Toskala (3.55) and Johan Hedberg (3.59) have a worse GAA.
Assistant GM Chuck Fletcher used to work in Anaheim's front office and could give GM Ray Shero a bird's-eye report on Bryzgalov (would the goalie's personality fit with the team?, etc.).
Tampa Bay Lightning
Clearly, the Lightning would have interest in a netminder. They've had issues in net since Nikolai Khabibulin bolted via free agency after the team's 2004 Cup win. Johan Holmqvist and Marc Denis are the team's current 1-2 in net. Still, while the team may want to go after Bryzgalov, one thing could make it highly unlikely -- the team's ownership situation. With the Bolts in between ownership groups right now, they will likely be unwilling to add salary. The sale has yet to be approved by the league's board of governors.
Los Angeles Kings
What better addition for the Kings than a goalie they know all too well. Besides, are the Kings really in love with Jean-Sebastien Aubin? With Jason LaBarbera the team's current No. 1 and with goalie-of-the-future Jonathan Bernier waiting in the wings, the Kings could take a chance on Bryzgalov and put Aubin on waivers, almost like a trade. It all depends on how much the Kings like one goalie over the other.
After the Bruins traded for Manny Fernandez this summer and hoped he'd be their saving grace in net, it may be hard to see the Bruins make a move for another goaltender. Unless, of course, Fernandez's left knee strain is worse than the club is letting on. He went on injured reserve on Nov. 9 after hurting it during practice 10 days earlier. Tim Thomas, meanwhile, has been carrying the load since.
Some critics wondered why the Coyotes didn't bring back Curtis Joseph. Others questioned the stability of Mikael Tellqvist. And after Thursday night's 6-0 loss to San Jose, we can see Alex Auld is not the answer. Phoenix could present another interesting situation. If the teams were to pick up Bryzgalov, they could pay his salary for a few months while he presumably plays well for them and then trade him as a rental come the trade deadline in February since his contract will be up at the end of the season. Pay the salary now, get draft picks later.
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