Bryzgalov a Coyote
Phoenix adds another goalie to the pile by winning the Ilya Bryzgalov sweepstakes, as none of the teams ahead of them on waiver priority (Edmonton, Washington and Buffalo) made a claim.
"We are very happy for Ilya," said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Brian Burke. "He's a great kid who deserves a chance to be a starting NHL goaltender. We thank him for all he has accomplished in a Ducks uniform, and we wish him well with Phoenix."I'd thought that perhaps the Sabres would take look at claiming him, as they have really struggled and haven't had exactly stellar play from backup Jocelyn Thibault in limited action. Buffalo also has more than enough cap room to assume the $1-million remaining on Bryzgalov's salary.
Phoenix now has four NHL-calibre tenders between Bryzgalov, Mikhail Tellqvist, David Aebischer and Alex Auld, although Aebischer is currently playing with San Antonio. Tellqvist has actually played quite well this season, has a 4-3-0 record in seven starts with a 2.80 goals against average and .903 save percentage.
Auld, however, has struggled, allowing four or five goals in his last four complete starts, and he was pulled from Thursday's 6-0 loss to the Sharks after allowing the first three goals. Since Oct. 27, Auld's goals against average is 4.67 in five starts, and he's likely on his way to the waiver wire himself.
“We are excited to bring in a world class goaltender with a Stanley Cup on his resume,” said Coyotes GM Don Maloney. “At 27 years old, he is just entering his prime and we look forward to having him in our lineup.”
UPDATE Some are questioning Burke's move to simply lose an asset for nothing, but with the abundance of NHL-calibre netminders out there, those on the block don't have that high a trade value. Bryzgalov is an unrestricted free agent this July, and could be picked up somewhere as a starter given his history, but at 27 has never been a No. 1.
Bryzgalov's been with the Ducks ever since he was drafted in 2000 out of his hometown team, Tolyatti Lada in Russia, and had reportedly been desperate to get out from behind Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Bryzgalov has played in just 69 NHL games since arriving in 2001-02, and started only 58, and Burke even went out and acquired undrafted Swiss star Jonas Hiller with a lucrative contract to fill the backup role.
Bryzgalov wasn't staying put, one way or another, and could have turned into a holdout had his request to be moved not been granted.
He'll certainly play more in Phoenix, and it's essentially up to him to try and prove himself as a true No. 1 with a team that's going to be overmatched most nights. Bryzgalov's career numbers are impressive, with a 2.48 GAA and .909 save percentage, so this is a solid move by the rebuilding Coyotes, who now have three soon-to-be UFA netminders. (Tellqvist is under contract for $800,000 for 2008-09.)