Yesterday, it was announced that the Phoenix Coyotes traded the rights of top-end netminder Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for prospect Matt Clackson and potentially two draft picks. The Flyers desperately needed a steady goalie between the pipes after they watched their hopes of another deep playoff run fall short due to faulty goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher. If signed, Bryzgalov would provide that steady hand to an otherwise shaky and crowded crease and could mentor a youngster like Bobrovsky as my colleague David Strehle of NHLHotStove.com has been predicting all year.
Nevertheless, the average hockey fan does not come here to read a recap of a trade, they come to have us give advice so we will move forward in projecting this Soviet expatriate.
There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Bryzgalov stacks up better than the internal options on the Flyers. However, let us officially check out what that entails using a sample size of the last two years.
(Both Boucher and Michael Leighton played for the Flyers these last two years which should help keep the sample size manageable; for this comparison we are only using Leighton’s stats as a Flyer).
|2009 – 2010||2010 – 2011||Combined|
As you can see, Bryzgalov is clearly an upgrade to Boucher. In addition, if you normalize the latter’s past two seasons, he sits below the rookie year of Bobrovsky. Considering Leighton never really got a shot at earning back the starting goalie role last season it seems safe to say a tandem of Bobrovsky and Bryzgalov would be the intended combination entering next season, again should Bryzgalov sign on in Philadelphia. As far as Flyers’ netminders go, Bryzgalov would improve the team statistic as a whole and provide young Bob with a mentor and role model should he continue his growing pains of last seaosn.
Now to the slightly more complicated stuff.
We know the Coyotes deploy a strict, defensive system so would Bryzgalov’s numbers suffer with a move to the run-and-gun Atlantic Division? With the Coyotes, Bryzgalov saw an average of 28.2 shots per 60 minutes of gameplay. By comparison, Bobrovsky faced 28.5 and Boucher 27.4, respectively. In other words, the Flyers’ defense did a better job of insulating their netminder than the Coyotes, which is surprising when you consider the cautious style of Head Coach Dave Tippett.
However, the Flyers’ netminders allowed more goals last season than Bryzgalov did according to his Goals Against, On Ice, per 60 minutes (5×5). Despite sporting a somewhat modest 2.48 GAA to round out the season, his GAON/60 came down to a tidy 2.03. By comparison, Leighton sported a 2.68, Boucher 2.22 and Bob 2.32. The Flyers could score, they could defend but their consistency for keeping the puck out of the net was pretty poor, thanks to their average netminding.
Upgrading to Bryzgalov looks like a very smart move for GM Paul Holmgren. With approximately $430,845 of cap space entering next season, the team will need to make some wiggle room, but if they do so they should be just fine. Fantasy owners fret not, Bryzgalov would work well in the City of Brotherly Love.