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Is this it for Ilya Bryzgalov?

Apr 6, 2014, 7:40 PM EDT

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31: Ilya Bryzgalov #30 of the Minnesota Wild reacts to play during a break in the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on March 31, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The Minnesota Wild won 3-2. Getty Images

The plan was for Ilya Bryzgalov to have a lengthy NHL career. That’s surely what he assumed would happen when he signed a nine-year, $51 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2011.

Of course, his time in Philadelphia was rocky — and that’s putting it politely. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren called him a “costly mistake” and bought him out just two years into the deal.

He went unsigned over the summer and had to wait until November before one of the worst teams in the league, the Edmonton Oilers, were willing to take a chance on him. He was later traded to the Minnesota Wild.

He hasn’t exactly made the Flyers regret giving up on him, but he has been solid enough this season with a 2.66 GAA and .911 save percentage in 29 games and has been particularly good in Minnesota.

All the same, when the question of his impending status as an unrestricted free agent came up, the 33-year-old goaltender wasn’t even ready to commit to extending his career.

“It doesn’t mean anything because I’m not sure I want to play next year,” Bryzgalov told the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff. “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

Bryzgalov admitted that thoughts of retirement are relatively new for him, although he added that he hasn’t lost his love of the game.

By buying Bryzgalov out, Philadelphia has committed to giving him roughly $1.6 million annually through 2026-27, so he’s going to get paid for years to come regardless of whether or not he plays. That being said, after his work this season, he’s likely to attract some interest over the summer.

  1. slaugin - Apr 6, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    Hard to feel bad for someone that will make 1.6 million dollars for the next 12 years

    • lowenni - Apr 6, 2014 at 10:46 PM

      I don’t think the money matters to him. He lost a lot of his credibility and became a bit of a joke and laughing stock for hockey fans throughout the country. With being bought out, having to play in the ECHL, being traded, I’d understand if he started to lose his passion for the game. He’s gone through a real rough patch, although yes he’s going to make a lot of money, but hockey is these guys’ life. I definitely feel bad for him.

  2. jacketsfan7 - Apr 6, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    If the wild make the playoffs and go past the first round I think he’ll stay

    • killerpgh - Apr 6, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      With Backstrom signed for 2 more years (its a 35+ contract as well), Harding signed for next year as well and Kuemper putting up respectable numbers for a 23 year old the Wild probably won’t be interested in resign Bryz unless Harding’s MS takes a turn for the worse.

      • justintimezone - Apr 6, 2014 at 8:44 PM

        Would be nice to keep Bryz around and shop Backstrom this summer.

      • clarke16 - Apr 6, 2014 at 8:55 PM

        Backy is gone and Bryz will stay…

      • killerpgh - Apr 6, 2014 at 9:52 PM

        But who would want Backstrom? 3.02 gga and a .899 save% in 21 games this year and his cap hit of almost 3.5 million is guaranteed because it’s a 35+ contract. I don’t think too many is any teams will be willing to take on that contract. Especially if they’re just looking for a back-up which is probably what he is at this point in his career.

      • lowenni - Apr 6, 2014 at 10:47 PM

        Would they buy out Backstrom if he’s healthy (is he going to be healthy this summer??)? I wouldn’t be surprised, especially if they still want to pursue Vanek.

      • clarke16 - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:10 AM

        The way you do it is you package Backy on a deal with another player the other team (pref one needing to add $$$ to meet the minimum cap) really wants…the other team then swallows Backy’s $$$ for the year remaining in his deal and you free up the cap room/roster spot. Win/win.

    • clarke16 - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:21 AM

      If he continues liking it in MN and continues producing–why wouldn’t he want to continue to be a part of that? It’s his opportunity for redemption in a franchise that won’t jerk him around like they did in Philly. What he’s basically saying is–I’m a free agent after this year. If the fit is right–I’ll play…but if I only have the choice between a team I’m not excited about and retiring…I’ll retire. Can’t blame him. He didn’t deserve to be disrespected the way he was in Philly. It’s not the money he’s playing for.

  3. 950003cups - Apr 6, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    That’s one dude who needs some serious soul searching. His house in NJ is (in Bryzish) Humongous Big. Or at least that’s what it looked like on 24/7 Series. He can’t play too far from there I guess. Maybe Carolina would be good for him? Then again, Danny Briere lives near him and he went to Montreal. So…. I guess he can always go to…… Hmmmmmm

    Ahhh. Just stay in Minnesota. Unless some expansion team opens in Seattle.

  4. favrewillplay4ever - Apr 6, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    Wild would be foolish not to want him back

    • pfhockey - Apr 6, 2014 at 9:40 PM

      A Bryz and Kuemper tandem would be nice

  5. prd797 - Apr 6, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    I mean, he’s basically set for life courtesy of the Flyers. One can understand why he might lose interest in playing.

    I don’t know if he’ll stick around in North America or come back over here to Europe, but net-minding jobs will be available if he still has the drive to obtain them. He really isn’t that bad of a player.

  6. mp1131211 - Apr 6, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    Ok… Wasn’t a fan of this guy. But I’m warming up to him. He’s made a few bad a** stops for the wild and hasn’t lost in regulation yet for them. Did anyone see that paddle save last night? Wow!

  7. hardkor07mn - Apr 6, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    He’s looked good so far for the Wild, but I’m not ready to hook my wagons to him just yet. He’s still a head case and I don’t totally trust him to be the anchor at such an important position.

    • clarke16 - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:12 AM

      Hardly a head case. He’s just a straight shooter. I find people like him refreshing.

  8. stcrowe - Apr 6, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    If he wants to continue playing, he should go to the KHL. There aren’t very many NHL teams left that would be desperate enough to bring him on board with his flakiness and inconsistency. With the KHL adding teams next year, I am sure that there will be opportunities for him.

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