40 Gets You WHAT!?!?


I guess Carter and Richards taught him well...before they left.


We are all led to believe that life works the same for everyone. Go to school to learn a trade, and then eventually, after proving your self worth to a company willing to hire you for said trade, you will be paid accordingly, based on your worth to the company and your proficiency at the chosen craft. But wouldn’t it be nice to leave school and get paid for what your employer thinks you’re capable of, instead of the base salary amount?
It’s simple to change the path, all you have to do is become a professional athlete and that dream will become your reality.

Professional sports stars are paid in such a way that undermines the basic ideology of how our country works. Highly touted rookies’ contracts routinely crack the multi-million dollar figure despite the fact that they’ve proved nothing, and with incentives and endorsements it’s a guarantee that the pockets in their soon to be sewn custom suits will need to be made bigger than normal, along with their credit limit.

The recent signing of James VanRiemsdyk can be lumped into this category as well. While JVR is not a rookie, one good postseason, consisting of 2 series, coupled with an average regular season campaign, in which he scored 40 points total, does not add up to a six-year, 25.5 million dollar extension. Well it doesn’t for everyone but the Philadelphia Flyers.

What do Eric Belanger, Sergei Samsonov, Simon Gagne, Lauri Korpikoski, David Booth, and Mike Knuble have in common? That’s the offensive company that JVR has in the 40-point club this past year, none of which jump off the page. So how did JVR earn such a lucrative contract in the new penny-pinching, salary cap stricken NHL? Potential? Possibly. If he comes out this year and scores 50 goals while leading the team deep into the playoffs the Flyers front office will look like geniuses. Paul Holmgren could write his own checks at that point. More of a probability is the fact that the Flyers looked into their crystal ball and realized that they don’t have a legitimate, youthful, big-time scoring threat on their roster besides the hopes of JVR.

The deepest team in the league last year has gotten slimmer and older rather quickly. Leading goal scorer, gone. Second place is 33. Third is more of a playmaker than a sniping threat. Fourth leading scorer is just plain lucky, and fifth place is gone. They already gave massive amounts of rubles to the new goalie, what else are they going to do with money that seems to be burning a hole in their bank account? Overpay for a right-winger seems to have been high on their summer to-do list.

The move still urges fans to jump on each side of the proverbial fence; are you a fan of the deal or are you not? If you are, chances are high that it is because you have been drinking the same kool-aid as the front office, effectively drilling the belief that JVR will grow into one of the strongest scoring threats that this league has to offer into your mind. If you are skeptical, you are not alone. With a bigger cap hit than Claude Giroux, who is widely viewed as the Flyers most talented player, the deal comes with question marks. However, Giroux’s deal does not bypass his immediate year of eligibility for unrestricted free agency the way JVR’s does. Translation, Giroux’s next contract will come sooner, be much larger, and may include more bidders than just the Flyers.

While it is a lot of money for a presumably unproven high draft pick from a few years back, the fact of the matter is that the money is there, and with no where else to put it why not take a roll of the dice? With the departure of Richards and Carter the management has successfully proven that contract amounts and lengths do not matter to them in the slightest, and will undoubtedly try to rectify their potential mistake by shipping him out of town if the need eventually arises.

Translation, a JVR jersey is just as safe as a Richards one was.

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How Soon Until They’re ‘Gellin’?


Who's name will appear on the back?

After an offseason that contained more fireworks than every Fourth of July celebration in the area combined, the expectations surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers next season are up in the air. The star staples that became synonymous with the orange and black are gone, a true number one, albeit high-priced, goaltender has arrived, and currently an unfinished roster complete with possible young guns, veterans, and ultra-veterans hoping to make the team are what Flyers fans have to look forward to. With great potential the question naturally arises, what can be constituted as a successful season?

Obviously the goal for every team is to win the Cup, but with a revamped roster is a parade down Broad Street the only thing that will appease fans? What if the team is competitive and loses in the Conference Finals? There is really no telling how talented this team will be, how players will fit together, or how much chemistry the new additions can create during camp and pre-season action, but that never stops anyone from guessing.
With many new faces the lines are surely going to be shuffled multiple times throughout the first half of the season as players start to gel with each other and productivity is determined, but how should the forwards’ lines look to start?

It’s no secret that this roster is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, and depending on whether or not Michael Nylander can make the team will most likely determine who centers the Jagr line. Don’t forget, the two were linemates with the Rangers and the Capitals and were a great pair, but Nylander is 38 years old and coming off of season-ending surgery last year. If he makes the team, Brayden Schenn will have to wait a little longer to don the famous Flyers sweater, instead skating in Phantoms purple to start the season.

Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell will probably stick together and look to add a player like Maxime Talbot to the mix. Talbot can offer a mix of finesse with hustle and scrappiness; traits that can work well coupled with Hartnell in the corners and will give Briere more space in his office, behind the net. Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk, two players who look to have a lot of scoring possibilities thanks to Giroux’s pass first mentality and JVR’s wish to shoot from anywhere on the ice, will look to stay together as well. A physical presence added to that line is the most logical of choices. Look for high energy forward Wayne Simmonds to be given a shot. Simmonds has the ability to play physical but has showed the possibility of scoring in the past. Playing with Giroux and JVR could translate into a twenty-goal season for Simmonds for the first time in his career.

Nylander centering a line of Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Voracek is a possibility, but Schenn could be implanted to replace Nylander depending on training camp. Jagr will most likely be called upon to push Voracek’s game forward, while simultaneously being a crutch for the young European, given the fact that they are from the same hometown in the Czech Republic. The fourth line could once again feature Blair Betts and Andreas Nodl, with an open door policy for the other wing position. Eric Wellwood and Ben Holmstrom could both snag the last forward position with stellar play in camp, but a more likely alternative is split time for both.

Head coach Peter Laviolette will undoubtedly see things differently in camp and will pair different players together a head scratching number of times before he sees a connection that works for his system, but if this mock-up turns out to be accurate an assistant coach offer should be in the mail!

Ok, I’ll settle for free tickets.

Another Stroke Closer to the Grave


Keegan Bradley celebrating his PGA Championship victory


The PGA Championship was played this past weekend, featuring nail biting dramatics, and ending with a riveting three-hole playoff that vaulted winner Keegan Bradley, a tour rookie making his first major appearance of his career, over 100 spots in the world golf rankings. There was only one problem, the fact that no one cared enough to watch.

It is no secret that over the last 13 years golf has seen a historic rise in popularity in terms of television ratings, tournament purses, and golfer’s marketability. What is the reason for such growth? Tiger Woods, and, to a smaller degree, Phil Mickelson. When either of these players’ names appear on the leaderboard over the weekend of any tournament the ratings skyrocket. The viewing public wants to see someone dominate, the way Tiger had for over a decade, or they want to see the lovable loser finally try to succeed in Phil Mickelson. It was a forgone conclusion over the last 10 years that the first page of the world golf rankings would feature these two players next to number 1 and number 2 respectively. It is not that way anymore, and golf is dying because of it.

With his 4th missed cut of his career, Tiger's search for his game continues


Over the last 13 majors the PGA has seen 13 different winners, one of which was the aforementioned Mickelson. This is not to say that the golf being played is less impressive, it simply features an even playing field. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, a tournament where any player has the chance to win is not as enticing to casual golf fans as it is for the players swinging the clubs, and therefore the fans refuse to tune in. CBS, NBC, ESPN, the Golf Channel, and various tournament sponsors are aware of this and have tried diligently to bill ‘the next great player’, but there doesn’t seem to be one particular golfer that wants to seize the vacant crown.

The final big draw for golf is the playoffs, also known as the FedEx Cup, which comes with a larger than life money offering. A collection of four tournaments in a row with a 10 million dollar first place purse, which sounds exciting until you remember these are a collection of four tournaments that Tiger Woods can’t even play in; he didn’t qualify and isn’t planning to try for a last ditch effort this week, therefore creating less buzz. To make matters worse, a quick glance at the top 20 players in the race for the Cup feature names like Watney, Bradley, Woodland, Wilson, Simpson, Day, Haas, Jacobson, Laird, etc. In other words, Who?

With golf seeing a steady decline in viewership and its most prolific golfer of all time losing more sponsorships over the last 12 months than most golfers could ever dream of having, the questions are abound regarding how to fix golf immediately, and how to assure the road in the future is not as bumpy. The easy way out for the PGA in the here and now is to continue to cross their fingers that one of the young and promising players will step up into the rarified spotlight by coupling his ability to dominate on the course with exciting charisma off of it. While the latter trait is not a requirement, given the realization that Tiger doesn’t have one, it would be a welcomed change.

For the future of golf to look brighter than the past, the idea that golf can survive with only one billed superstar needs to change. There are a number of promising players under 30-years-old on tour, including Rory McIroy, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa, Jason Day, and perhaps Keegan Bradley, but being promising and being a superstar are two adjectives that couldn’t be further apart. The hope that one player will break away from the pack to become “the next Tiger” is about as dim a thought as thinking that Lebron is the next Jordan. Being as good as Tiger Woods once was, for example, holding all four major titles at one time or winning nine straight starts, is not easy, and will most likely not be seen so soon again.

Rickie Fowler is known as much for his outfits as his golf game


True golf fans are going to continue to tune in, and they will grow to respect the young guns on tour while simultaneously hoping that Tiger finds his game; but nonchalant Sunday TV viewers won’t come back. While that may be a dim view as a whole it is probably the most logical. A future of smaller purses, decreased tournament endorsements, and less lucrative TV contracts may be where the PGA Tour is headed, and it doesn’t look like anyone can stop it.

It’s something that the professionals will have to adapt to. They can always look to professional hockey players for guidance with that.

Artful Escape


In this section I will attempt to convey my ability to form sentences in a way that tells a story that does not involve reporting on sports. Reflections, current events, or random thoughts are what you will most likely see here. If anyone has any recommendations feel free to leave them in the comments section. Enjoy!

Most of my life revolves around sport. Whether it be playing, watching, reporting, debating, scheming, coaching, critiquing, or criticizing, it never ends. And while most people use sport as a way to escape from their normal lives for a few hours, any of the aforementioned activities take more in-depth thought than my day job. While I love sports, I also need to escape from it for some periods of time. Whether that be 45 minutes or an entire day, the length doesn’t matter, the getaway does. Obviously an escape needs to be something that eases your stress, brings you peace of mind, clears your head, and constantly entices you to stay lost forever.

I am lucky enough to have two. In the winter it is snowboarding, in the summer it is surfing. This is not to say that playing sports is not relaxing, but for an overly competitive person it is usually more important to perform well and win than to relax during game play. When taking into account the prerequisites for an ‘escape’, sports simply do not fit the bill.

There are no words that can describe what it is like to glide down an untouched forest of pure powder as the sun comes up over the mountains in the distance. As the brightness and warmth of the morning sun combine with the frigid mountain air and heaps of snow a feeling of oneness with the earth uncontrollably washes over you as if you were simply breathing in happiness. I understand that not everyone has a connection quite like that. Some people view snowboarding as a nuisance to their skiable terrain, others are frustrated with even learning the activity and often choose to quit after landing on their rear-end a thousand times during the first two days, rendering them unable to sit down comfortably. But for those that stick it out there is a love affair that cannot be achieved through menial tasks.

Some people choose to view snowboarding as an art, and it doesn’t have to be the ‘Shaun White’ version of snowboarding that involves multiple in-air spins while traveling at 40 miles per hour while simultaneously grabbing sections of the board that many people can’t reach while sitting; it can be viewed as art when you carve your own niche into the side of a mountain that was there millions of years before you and will be there millions of years after you leave. It can leave you with an added realization that the world does not revolve around you, so don’t take it for granted. Don’t take any of it for granted.

While the two seem similar the feelings created during the acts of snowboarding and surfing are very different, which is not necessarily a bad thing. What would be the point to copying the same task when there are so many others to enjoy?

Surfing brings with it new sensations, new challenges, and new goals. The next wave you catch is guaranteed to not be the same as the last. Much the same way that a golfer is said to never hit the same shot twice a surfer will never catch the same swell. Each wave breaks a bit different, bringing with it immediate actions required in order to actually stay up and continue the ride. For a true surfer these reactions become instinctive and reading the wave is more of an art form than an assignment.

There are few things harder to do than catch a wave that Mother Nature created (well technically the moon), stand up on a fiberglass board, and ride it longer than 4 seconds down the line. This is why most memories are created while sitting in the water and waiting for something to come in, instead of the swift process of surfing.

There are perks, some of which are visual, some of which are not, and others that are personal to each surfer.

On the East Coast the ability to watch the sunrise over the horizon is offered. A precious moment that causes the water to glisten as far as the eye can see, something that is a mainstay for morning surf sessions and often overlooked. Most people are more interested with watching the sunset than watching the sunrise. However, to me, the idea of watching the day start is more exciting than watching it end.

Sometimes the possibility to see a pod of dolphins or a school of fish comes about; other times its just miles of water that can be glassy, clean, rough, weak, or huge. At that moment all of the stress that one can carry is replaced with an idea; that nothing can come close to bathing in salt water, freezing your toes off, and knowing that there is one good wave that can immediately help you forget all about that, all you have to do is catch it. When you are pulling enough seaweed out of your hair two days after the fact to start a small colony you will be hard pressed to not smile, even though it’s rather gross.

Given the amount of people that make up our world, and the affinity fellow humans seem to have for doing things together, it is tough to whittle out some time for singularity, but it is only in those moments when we can truly appreciate everything and nothing at the same time.

What’s With all the Black and Gold


As with many fans of the Philadelphia Flyers I waited with baited breath on July 1st. I waited, and waited, and waited some more. In fact I’m still waiting for the organization to make that one big move that everyone was sure would come. Perhaps not to the levels of Steven Stamkos, but maybe Ales Hemsky or Paul Stastny or another player on that level. After all, there had to have been someone the flyers brass were targeting, right? It seems as if that was common knowledge.

After bidding adieu to Mike Richards and Jeff Carter my Philadelphia Flyers t-shirt collection has been dwindling. I have been forced to retire my previous sweaters and players’ shirts emblazoned with their names due to common fandom rules. If there is any reason for a big move to be made it is clearly my wardrobe, well and for the team to get better, but that is obviously second.

First came the news that no offer would be made to Steven Stamkos, arguably the second or third best player in the league. Given the price tag to acquire him, and the subsequent truckload of money it would take to sign him to a long-term contract it was an easy pill to swallow. Then came reports that the Flyers were one of the frontrunners to land Jaromir Jagr.

Jaromir Jagr

Was I supposed to gasp? They were going to possibly sign a guy who has over 600 career goals and nearly a thousand assists in his NHL career, how could that news not be exciting?

Because Jagr is not Teemu Selanne, a player in the twilight of his NHL years but is still a stud. He’s not even Niklas Lidstrom caliber these days. Granted, Lidstrom is a defenseman, but the point is that he cannot lead a team any which way you slice it. There is a reason Jagr played in Russia. You might be saying that that reason is his desire to play in his home country, but the simple fact that he signed a one year deal to play for the Flyers immediately disproves that notion. Add to the over-the-hill comments the understanding that Jagr was a Penguin, and will always be remembered as a Penguin, and you have a bigger reason for dislike. Sure, he was a Ranger for a quick second among a few other quick layovers, but don’t act like it won’t be weird when Jagr dons his number 68 orange and black sweater and you are asked to cheer.

That was the biggest hurdle I had to jump in order to be okay with the signing, and just about the time I came to grips with the idea, the Flyers decided to sign another Penguin. Not a “once beloved” penguin, or a former penguin, but Maxime Talbot. Paul Holmgren must have been playing a joke. He scored two goals in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals to bring the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh, but outside of that is there a Talbot highlight of him playing hockey that I’ve missed? I understand that he had a few quality segments in HBO’s 24/7, but that doesn’t exactly convey greatness. This is the same guy who fought Dan Carcillo and then put his finger up to his mouth to silence the Philadelphia crowd before the penguins came back from three goals down to win; he is now a Flyer, and everyone seems to be okay with that.

Really?

Yes, really. I’ve said it before and it still rings true, as fans we have to cheer when our team tries to make itself better. We cheer, scream, throw things, lose our voices, waste our money, and dissect every pass, shot, and hit the players make because we want to be watching hockey in June. We want to be able to wear a Flyers shirt proudly in the beginning of summer and all the way through until next season.

Maxime Talbot


Talbot and Jagr are not the sexiest choices that were available, but their mix of veteran knowhow and playoff leadership may help propel the team to new heights. With a large make-up of young talent these types of men are a necessity, and will hopefully make their money as much in the locker room as they do on the rink. When you spend your time looking at the box score of the game this upcoming season you will not be getting the entire story. Talbot is scrappy, a quality that goes for miles in Philadelphia sports allure, and Jagr is a rental that might work out nicely for a quick jolt to the top of the heap. Most important, they’ve been there before, something you cannot put a price on. Maybe it is a Talbot speech that will help the Flyers overcome a hole to come back in the third period to win a game, or maybe it is Jagr’s prowess with the puck in tight spaces that will help vault Brayden Schenn’s young career to new heights when given free space. Their productivity is beyond points per game or plus/minus numbers, and at some point we will all understand that. Hopefully in the playoffs.

Talbot Hoisting the Cup


The signings took a while to get used to, and seeing Jagr in a Flyers jersey will be weird for quite some time, especially when flashbacks of him in black and gold drift into my memory, but with the absence of any big move you have to be okay with the idea that the Flyers are building this team the right way, without suckering themselves into big contracts. Maybe they still have a trick up their sleeve regarding the eventual destination of Sergei Bobrovsky, but for now we can just sit and ponder what is to come.

Although my closet is a little mad at them for waiting.

Melrose quality Mullet

Blowing Up and Starting Over


New homes for Carter and Richards, far away from one another.

It must have been a dream.

Price check on item numbers 17 and 18, again that’s price check on #17 and #18. Is the “store” crazy to sell the two lynchpins of their franchise at the same time for a seemingly discounted rate? This is the best sale of the century!

In fact it was not a dream at all, it is simply the tale of the Philadelphia Flyers’ moves in 28 hours leading up to the NHL entry draft, told from the perspective of anyone who has not had the proverbial “privilege” of being a flyers fan. Trading away two players that were touted to be the cornerstones of a franchise may seem brash, and in some circles even downright stupid, but the move to part ways with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter will pay dividends this year and for years to come. Two players, two long-term contracts, countless headaches by every fan, and zero Stanley Cups in the trophy case at the Wells Fargo Center with this group seems to have worn down the effervescent Ed Snider to a point of no return. Reasons that forced the chairman to inform GM Paul Holmgren to get rid of the two players he once stated he would take over Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Maybe it’s not the play of Richards and Carter that can be blamed for the lack of results in this most recent playoff run; however, wearing the C on your sweater automatically pushes you to the front of the line in the pecking order when a finger needs to be pointed, and wearing the A means you aren’t far down that line. The goalie was an easy scapegoat for everyone to place blame on regarding the failures this season, and despite believing that Sergei Bobrovsky will eventually be a solid goaltender in the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers tried to set the record straight, they aren’t okay with ‘eventually’. In three swift moves on one day the Flyers freed up cap space, freed themselves from two hefty contracts, got younger, acquired a future stud in Brayden Schenn, and locked up the cream of the free agent goalie crop, Ilya Bryzgalov for an exorbitant amount of time, and got better in the process.

Brayden Schenn, a highly touted youngster


If you were previously unsure, the name of the game is winning ‘now’, it always has been for this organization. They’ve just become accustomed to coming up short. Mid-season pick-ups, off-season maneuvers, and the outwardly constant shuffle of coaches have made that abundantly clear. The organization wants to win and were previously willing to do a good amount to try and make that happen. They have now proven that they are willing to do anything. Re-working the top of the line-up to accommodate the signing of Bryzgalov was not a necessity, but has been done with the overall purpose of re-formulating the game plan in an effort to hoist the Cup.

They could have taken the most logical path and traded away Carter, a move that would not have shocked many Flyers fans, in order to make room for the goaltender we so desperately needed. Instead they decided to give the 2011-12 Flyers a new identity, from the top down, by trading Richards along with the aforementioned Carter. Logical? Not exactly. Gutsy? You bet. If it all works out then the empty feeling that some fans had when they heard the news will be forgotten, replaced with joyous praise and multiple hugs, from people who don’t normally give hugs, once they see the big shiny Cup paraded down Broad St.

The idea that the Flyers are now better than they were with Richards and Carter is debatable, and obviously is rather hard to prove given the lack of finality that this roster currently has, or the understanding that they have yet to play a game. That being said, the constant question of “who is leading this team?” is now gone. The laid back attitude that both players seemed to have regarding losses, a trait that was nauseating to a fan base that detested even the idea of losing, is gone.

What is now added is the stress of figuring out a roster that is presently unfinished. There is still a fair amount of cap space, and there are more moves that need to occur to help round out the roster; but isn’t it nice that the Flyers finally have some wiggle room? For a team that is notorious for running their cap up to the ceiling, and sometimes being forced to sign college kids to 24 hour deals, having the ability to pick and choose what to do next is a welcomed change, and could be the remedy that they need.

With a new Captain, most likely Chris Pronger, and a group of young players that will be asked to step into the spotlight, like Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk, this Flyers team has the opportunity to exceed expectations. There are sure to be some growing pains when players are asked to take on strange roles while the team takes on a different identity, but as the team moves forward, having the ability to make necessary moves and round out a roster the right way gives the Flyers a better chance now than before.

That’s the point, right?

It's their team now

Rights to Bryzgalov, Now What?


The Flyers new hope between the pipes?


For the Philadelphia Flyers the offseason started shortly after the handshake line on May 6th, for the fans it may have started directly after the all-star break, when the wheels started to fall off of a bus that was previously headed to the Stanley Cup finals. Ever since February rolled around fans have hemmed and hawed regarding the goalie situation more than any other subject surrounding the team.

The organization as a whole has tried to alleviate some of the blame given to that specific position, trying to deflect towards ideas such as numerous injuries, intermittent spouts of lackluster play without explanation, and an overall loss of control or team accountability. The problem with these ideas is simple; none of them will fly with the fans. Goaltending has been a hot button issue for the Flyers since the 88-89 season, before Hextall’s contract issues started to effect his play, but there is a possibility that a savior is on the horizon, or so everyone hopes.

Yesterday the Flyers traded Matt Clarkson, a 2012 3rd round pick, and a conditional pick for the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov.

What does that exactly mean? The Flyers are now the only team that can negotiate a new contract with Bryzgalov until July 1st, a day where he is set to become the cream of the crop of the 2011 free agent class. Making a move to acquire rights to a player is a risky endeavor given the propensity most players have for testing the open market. At the same time, this is not the first time the Flyers have traded for negotiating rights, most recent of which was the move to negotiate with defenseman Dan Hamhuis last off-season. In that instance, a contract was never agreed upon. In theory, the addition of Bryzgalov makes the Flyers a top-tier contender for the Cup next season, but getting to that point is a lot harder than many fans might think; so before everyone rejoices and thanks the Flyers for finally answering their prayers it is a good idea to wait and see what happens at the negotiating table.

Bryzgalov made $4.5 million dollars last season for the Phoenix Coyotes and is easily the biggest reason the team has been competitive over the last two years. Now, at 31, initial reports are that Mr. Bryzgalov wants a 5-year deal somewhere in the range of 30-32 million dollars. That would average out to make him the 5th highest paid goaltender in the league, and the second, or third, depending on money, highest paid Flyer on the team, next to Danny Briere and Kimmo Timonen. With 78 regular season wins over the last two years the contract amount he seeks is not astronomical, but the Flyers aren’t interested in his regular season stats. They currently have a team that finished second in the standings in the regular season, yet they did not finish where they wanted.

Each year the Flyers have excuses due to their consistency to lose when it matters most, in the playoffs. And each offseason the front office makes a collection of moves that will hopefully help the team, without ever really answering the bell on a stud goaltender, for a few reasons. They don’t grow on trees, and they aren’t necessarily required to win a championship these days. Many fans have been screaming for a “legit, playoff experienced goalie”, while at the same time throwing out two prominent names of Tomas Vokoun and Ilya Bryzgalov. Now fans are staring at the possibility of cheering for the latter choice next season, but is that a good thing?

Recently, with a subpar back-end playing in front of him Mr. Bryzgalov has faltered in the playoffs. In 2010 he lost in a first round series that went 7 games, while sporting a 3.44 GAA, which is passable but not superb. In 2011 he was swept in 4 games, with a GAA clip of 4.36 and a save percentage south of 88%, both of which are not good. The Coyotes were certainly not as talented as the Flyers are up front, but their defense was just proven to be suspect, at best, even after you take away the bad goals allowed by Boucher and Bob. Is it worth over six million dollars a year to get a passable playoff goalie? Is it worth dumping a fair amount of cap space to put him between the pipes for 5 years?

If the answer is a resounding yes, which is a forgone conclusion at this point, then some things need to happen in order for the Flyers to create enough cap space to sign Bryzgalov. Offering money to current unrestricted or restricted free agents is going to be tough. That list includes Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Carcillo, Ville Leino, Darroll Powe, Sean O’Donnell, and Brian Boucher. Acquiring cheap replacements for that crop of players is unlikely, putting many of those positions up for grabs amongst the young farm system guys in training camp. Seeing those players go leaves the Flyers with six empty roster spots and a total salary cap hit of $55.65 million next season, $3.75 under the cap.

Depending on the players involved there will need to be two, or three, big dumps of salary to generate enough cap room, fill the necessary voids, and sign Bryzgalov.

Pay attention to the small fact that Briere, Richards, Hartnell, and Timonen have ‘no trade clauses’ in their contract, making them immovable entities. Taking that into account, the easiest solution is to take a player that can generate some trade interest, usually reserved for a younger player, and has a substantial cap hit; namely, Jeff Carter (sorry ladies), and his $5.75 million dollar contract per year. In conjunction with that the possibilities are abound, and could include trading Kris Versteeg, $3.075 million next year, or Matt Carle, $3.45 million next year. Last but not least, there is still the question of Bobrovsky. It is clear that he is in need of some tutelage, but given his age and his $1.75 million dollar annual cap hit, he could be an extremely inviting proposition for a smaller market team that has the luxury of time without as much pressure.

The idea that the Flyers could finally have a true NHL proven talent at goaltender next season is enticing, but there are far too many variables at this given moment to justify throwing a party or prepping the parade floats. A top-level goalie is nice, but only when you can work it into the framework of the team. We don’t live in the pre-salary cap NHL world any longer, despite our constant wishes. While the goalie is the most important piece to the puzzle, there still are many pieces that have to be accounted for. If signing Bryzgalov leaves us a few pieces short than the same outcome is sure to come along next offseason.

Contract disputes might leave Bryzgalov in the dark