Amnesty - Who stays, who goes Part I

This will be the first of a series covering who the Flyers can/should/will buyout

When assessing the Flyers this year, it becomes awfully easy to point your finger at a select few players. A quick check of twitter during any game(s) reveals a number of thoughts from the fan base:

1. Bryzgalov needs to be bought out. Now. RIGHT NOW!
2. Danny Briere is awful. Also needs to be bought out.
3. Andrej Meszaros isn't worth his weight in pucks. So...I think you know what goes here.
4: Braydon Coburn: Overrated. Give him all of the moneys and get him off of the team.

Seeing as the first two have been most popular, let's run through what would happen to the Flyers if the first item listed came to fruition:

The Flyers buyout Ilya Bryzgalov and the 7 Years, $5.66 million cap hit remaining on his contract.

The guy has had a SV% around .900 all season and his GAA is at 2.83. There has been a lot of finger pointing as to who is responsible for this (It's the system! The defence! He's distracted! Loud noises!) but the fact is, his stats since coming here have not made him deserving of his monstrous contract. Has he played well at times? Absolutely, he has been arguably the best Flyer on the ice a number of games this year, but it hasn't been enough to make up for this mistakes in front of him.

Having said that, what are the Flyers options? Let's say they do buy him out, do they have any goalies in the system currently who could be an option moving forward? Let's look at who they have at the minor league level:

Cal Heeter AHL: 10-13-2 GAA: 2.83 SV%: .909
Anthony Stolarz OHL: 17-3-2 GAA: 2.125 SV%: ~.927

I left out Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton, and Scott Munroe for obvious reasons. The guys aren't NHL caliber starters, no matter how much we love to chant 'BOOOOOOSH' on a nightly basis. Some good memories, but good riddance, gentlemen. Munroe has been a career minor leaguer, which is respectable but the chances of him becoming and NHL starter at the age of 31 seem slim.

Looking at these two, only Anthony Stolarz seems even possible for the future. Cal Heeter has an attitude, so maybe he could be fun for a couple of games here and there and who knows, maybe he becomes a star! (Here's where we can lament the release of Niko Hovinen, arguable their top goaltending prospect who is now with the Edmonton Oilers. ) So within the organization, there's not much of anything. But hey, we can always throw money at free agents, right?! Well, here they are (Via mynhltraderumors)

Player Team Age 2012-13 Cap Hit
Niklas Backstrom MIN 35 $6,000,000
Tim Thomas NYI 38 $5,000,000
Nikolai Khabibulin EDM 40 $3,750,000
Evgeni Nabokov NYI 37 $2,750,000
Jimmy Howard DET 28 $2,250,000
Mike Smith PHX 30 $2,000,000
Chris Mason NAS 36 $1,500,000
Jose Theodore FLA 36 $1,500,000
Mathieu Garon TBL 35 $1,300,000
Jason Labarbera PHX 33 $1,250,000
Peter Budaj MTL 30 $1,150,000
Ray Emery CHI 30 $1,150,000

I stopped the table at Boucher and Leighton for the reasons listed above. So what are their options? The two that stick out most, to me, would have to be Mike Smith and Jimmy Howard. Both are due for some type of pay increase, and who knows if they even make it to free agency. Here are their stats so far in their careers:

Jimmy Howard: 124 - 63 2.40 0.917
Mike Smith: 116 - 94 2.59 0.913

These are both good goalies. Carrying GAA in the mid 2's and SV% around .915. In comparison, here are Bryzgalov's numbers for his career:

Brygalov: 202-146-45 2.55 .914

These number may be deceiving, since he has underwhelmed since being in Philadelphia, but his numbers are comparable to the two listed above. He has also been a good goalie, whether we like to admit it or not. The question after all of this then becomes: Should the Flyers buyout Bryzgalov? No. There is no promise that the Flyers would be able to get either of the two goalies listed above. Maybe they buy Backstrom for a year just to sever ties with the much maligned Bryzgalov and give themselves a chance? I just don't see it happening, and with word that Smith is already talking extension with the Coyotes, it leaves the Flyers with chasing another lone free agent with no promises it will pay off.

The Flyers are better keeping Bryzgalov, at least for the next season. Any trade speculation would involve the Flyers giving up a key player, and I just don't see that happening. But this management has shocked before, and it will shock again. Maybe Jonathon Bernier is in Orange and Black next year, with Braydon Schenn donning his old black and steel. Let's hope not.

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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