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Report: Flyers looking to trade Bobrovsky

Jul 8, 2011, 5:54 AM EDT

Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins - Game Four Getty Images

As if the Flyers and Russian goaltenders haven’t been in the news enough, the latest out of Philadelphia combines the two topics into one big, tantalizing story. The Flyers are reportedly shopping Sergei Bobrovsky despite the rookie’s impressive 28-15-8 record. Yes, you heard that correctly. Despite having a .915 save percentage, 2.59 goals against average, and being a Calder Trophy candidate for the first half of the season, the 22-year-old is on the trade market.

In November, he was supposed to finally be the answer to the Flyers’ two decade long goaltender search. Even with veterans Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton on the roster, Bobrovsky took his opportunity and made the Flyers keep him on the roster with his stellar play between the pipes. Now it looks like he’s the goaltender left standing when the music has stopped.

Philadelphia Inquirer beat reporter Frank Seravalli has the scoop:

According to sources, the Flyers began to shop Bobrovsky – the man they called “the goaltender of the future” as recently as May – to all suitors once they struck a 9-year deal with Ilya Bryzgalov on June 23.

(snip)

“The Flyers, though, couldn’t get the exact asking price they hoped for when shopping Bobrovsky’s services on the open market. Varlamov, a fellow Russian only 5 months older than Bobrovsky, netted Washington a first- and second-round pick in a July 1 trade.

It’s plain to see that Bobrovsky – without the first-round pedigree and nearly 3 full years’ worth of experience in North America – would not garner as much as Varlamov on the market. The Flyers would have pulled the trigger at that price.”

There are three reasons why Bobrovsky is on the trading block:

1. Ilya Bryzgalov: When the team trades away two of their cornerstone centers to make room for a 9-year, $51 million contract, you know he’s the man for the future. When the organization called Bobrovsky “the goaltender of the future,” they weren’t talking about the 2020-21 season. They can either let him rot as the back-up, let him dominate the AHL in Adirondack (he’d have to clear waivers), or trade him while his value is still relatively high. Even though he’s only 22-years-old, he’s already proven that he can play in the NHL. With some seasoning and experience, he could be a very good goaltender for another team. At least that’s what the Flyers will be telling potential suitors.

2. Money: Sooner or later it always comes back to money. Bobrovsky scored a 3-year entry-level deal when he was playing with Novokuznetsk Metallurg in the KHL. His impressive play earned him a deal worth $1.75 million annually—a number that now poses problems for the Flyers and their salary cap. Only Antero Niittymaki of the San Jose Sharks is a higher paid back-up ($2 million cap hit). It’s interesting: his deal is great for the Flyers if he’s their starter, yet it’s tremendous overpayment if he’s the back-up. Teams that are annually up against the cap don’t have the luxury of overpaying back-up goaltenders.

3. Waivers: Perhaps more problematic than his salary is that he’d have to clear waivers if the Flyers wanted to send him down to Adirondack next season. Even though he never played a game in the AHL last season, the Flyers had the option of sending him down to Adirondack if they so desired without having to worry about another team snatching him up.

The Flyers have five goaltenders under contract for next season and only four spots on the NHL/AHL teams. Whoever plays behind Bryzgalov at the NHL level can pretty much expect to sit on the bench for at least 60 games next season—which means it’s not the ideal situation for a developing goaltender. Bryzgalov has the starting job locked up, Jason Bacashihua just signed a one-year deal, Michael Leighton is under contract for another season, and Johan Backlund still has a year left before he becomes a free agent. The Flyers’ organization has high hopes for Backlund and he’s almost $1 million cheaper in regards to the salary cap.

Let’s throw this out to the readers. What would you do if you were Flyers GM Paul Holmgren? Would you hold onto the young goaltender as an expensive insurance policy against Bryzgalov? Would you bury him in the AHL? Or would you trade him for assets that you could fit under the cap?

Let’s hear what you have…

  1. bcjim - Jul 8, 2011 at 7:11 AM

    Ha Ha. Good luck with that. How many piles of dog crap is Philly planning on stepping in this year?

    • bcjim - Jul 8, 2011 at 7:12 AM

      Not that he isnt a decent goalie, I just think the market is soft for goalies.

  2. miketoasty - Jul 8, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    Am I the only one not surprised by this at all? They have Ilya for 9 years. The Flyers have a starting goalie for 9 years so why keep paying this goalie to either backup or decay in the AHL. It makes sense for them to just dump him for a couple high end draft picks than to keep him.

    • hystoracle - Jul 8, 2011 at 11:49 AM

      No, You’re not the only one. He has only been included in every trade scenario that has been put out by the Philly media machine. Fairly clear that he is an odd man out with Bryzgalov there for pretty much the next decade. Don’t see them getting high end draft picks for a guy every one knows they don’t need and are trying to purge.

      • andyreidisfat - Jul 8, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        Umm for once the Philly media has been saying all offseason the Flyers weren’t going to do anything in trades. In fact besides a few brief rumors about Carter being traded (but nowher ein particular) to make cap room for breezy the Philly media has shot down just about every rumor.

        Also they don’t NEED to get rid of Bob. They can keep him and have the best goalie tandem in the league. My guess though is this is a leak to get Tampa to move on a deal for Stamkos sooner rather than later. At this point my best guess is the Flyers are going to end up trading Bob a really good player (giroux, JVR, Schenn, Or the Cloutier kid) Bob and some draft picks and maybe another lower end prospect of two. Expect that deal to get done by the end of next week. My guess is Tampa is holding out for two of those players but will most likely only end up getting one of them unless the Flyers are willing to put a Danny B on the table as well, i just don’t see tham givng up two of their young studs.

  3. sknut - Jul 8, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    The Varlmov trade really hurt them, they can’t take less than what Washington got but the market is soft. They have waited too long to trade him, they should hold onto him now and see if a goalie gets hurt in training camp or at the trade deadline.

    • cshearing - Jul 8, 2011 at 9:22 AM

      Why can they not take less than what Washington got? Varlamov has more NHL experience, and was a 1st round pick. I would assume the Flyers will get less.

      They have to trade him too, as he makes too much to be their backup. Everyone is correct that the goalie market is soft, but I think the Lightning should look at him. Roloson won’t be around after this year, most likely.

      • psujay - Jul 8, 2011 at 10:23 AM

        Why does where Varlamov was drafted matter? Should I expect three firsts for Alexander Daigle because he was drafted 1st overall, and next to nothing for Datsyuk or Zetterberg since they were late round picks?

  4. sknut - Jul 8, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    @cshearing I agree but from the teams perspective they will expect similar compensation. really though they aren’t in the drivers seat teams know they want to trade him. that’s why the flyers would be better off waiting to see if someone gets hurt in training camp.

  5. aclassyguyfromaclassytown - Jul 8, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    I’d trade him if they can find good value for him, and keep him as the backup if they can’t. Someone would snatch him up off waivers.

  6. cardmagnet - Jul 8, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    If the cost wasn’t absurd, I’d love to see the Lightning make a deal for him. Roli isn’t getting any younger, and I think it’s valid to question if he can perform at a high level for another full season (really, I question how much of his playoff play was a high level and how much was “falling in manure and coming out smelling like a rose”).

    Bobrovsky would be able to back up Roli or even step in should anything go wrong with Roli, plus it gives an answer to the goalie position in the future. Sure, the Lightning have Tokarski at Norfolk, but I don’t think he’s the answer for the future.

  7. icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I love the BOB but ya gotta trade him. For the amount of money he makes and small amount of money the Flyers have under the cap, it only makes sense to trade him. It is a weak ‘tender market but teams like TB who have an older goalkeeper would like to have a younger back up who seems to have the potential to be a starter. Draft picks and/or prospects is what the Flyers should be asking for return. But only time will tell.

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