Tag:Ilya Bryzgalov
Posted on: August 17, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: August 17, 2011 2:16 pm

Daily Skate: The NHL's new fight

By: Adam Gretz

THE NHL'S NEW FIGHT: As reactions to Rick Rypien's death continue to pour in, National Post columnist Bruce Arthur put together a tremendous column on Tuesday nighttalking about the new fight that the NHL has on its hands: depression. Writes Arthur:
we don’t know enough about why he might have been depressed, about whether fighting was a trigger for that depression. We just know that he suffered from a disease that is still not understood in society, or in sports. Studies have shown that depression is severely underreported in professional sport; even if this case, in which the Canucks attempted to procure various avenues of treatment without putting pressure on the young man, Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis admits they didn’t have an established course to follow. “There is,” he said, “no blueprint.”
The entire column is definitely interesting and worth checking out.

SOME POSITIVE ATTENTION FOR LEBDA: Defenseman Brett Lebda was recently bought out by the Nashville Predators after they acquired him following what was a disappointing run with the Toronto Maple Leafs. His play was the butt of many jokes in Detroit (his first NHL team) and Toronto, and Michael Petrella of The Production Line points out a lot of the positive things he's been able to do throughout his career.

CHECK OUT BRYZGALOV'S NEW MASK: Apparently, Ilya Bryzgalov likes tigers because they are featured on what is supposedly his new mask that he'll wear as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. InGoal Magazine has the pictures.

LEAGUE TO TEST CURVED GLASS: The Research, Development and Orientation camp kicks off today in Ontario, and Dan Rosen of NHL.com has a look at one of the possible changes the league will be testing: curved glass that would replace the padded turnbuckles that used to sit near the end of the player benches.

ALFREDSSON RETURNS TO ICE: Ottawa Senators forward hit the ice for the first time since early February and managed to skate for more than an hour on Tuesday. The session appears to have been a success as the veteran winger said "it felt good to be back on the ice," via Martin Cleary of the Ottawa Citizen. The Senators can certainly use him -- and his offense -- this upcoming season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 8:54 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 10:24 am

Mike Smith talks about joining the Coyotes


By: Adam Gretz

The Phoenix Coyotes signed free agent goaltender Mike Smith to a two-year contract on the first day of free agency and will give him an opportunity to fill the void left by the trade of Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers. Those aren't small shoes to fill, as Bryzgalov was a large part of the Coyotes' success over the past two seasons.

Smith, however, is confident he can do his part and is optimistic about his opportunity having past experience with coach Dave Tippett when they were both in Dallas. Goaltenders tend to perform well in Tippett's system, and Smith is excited about the chance to once again play for him. He's also looking forward to getting a chance to work goaltender coach Sean Burke, who experienced some of the same career struggles as Smith when it came to finding a starting job.

I had a chance to spend a few minutes on the phone with the 29-year-old goaltender on Thursday night, and we discussed his decision to sign with Phoenix, his first experiences as an unrestricted free agent, favorable systems for goaltenders and our least favorite rule in the NHL.

Adam Gretz: Obviously, Mike, you have a bit of a history with Dave Tippett, your new head coach, having played for him when you both were in Dallas a few years ago. How much of that played into your decision to join the Coyotes, and how much of it was the opportunity to compete for a No. 1 job?

Mike Smith: I think the main thing was the opportunity. Saying that, knowing Tip very well from my time in Dallas, I have a lot of respect for him and like the way he coaches. Obviously, it's a defensive style and he plays a very tight system, which is very intriguing for a goaltender. I have a lot of respect for him as a person, too. Obviously, the opportunity was No. 1, but it wasn't a hard decision knowing Tip was going to be there, and having a guy like Sean Burke was a pretty big thing, too.

Gretz: You mentioned the system he plays, and that's actually something I wanted to bring up. We always talk about certain systems that are favorable to goalies, and I admit, I do this as much as anybody having never actually played the position myself. But can you give us an idea as to how much that really does help a goaltender? I mean, if you're facing 40 shots from the perimeter, I would imagine that's not as much of a grind as having to stop 20 shots from right in front of the net. But at the end of the day you still have to make the saves, regardless of how many there are or where they're coming from.

Smith: Like you said, you have to make the saves when you're called upon to make the saves; that's you're job and that's what it comes down to. There are systems that are favorable to goalies because you're going to get more shots from the outside. There's not going to be as many scoring chances from the great scoring chance areas in the middle of the ice. For me, with my size and my ability, if I feel like I can get a lot of shots from the outside, I'm going to do my best and have a good opportunity to make those saves. Goaltending is simply a position where, if you have mistakes in front of you, you're called upon to make saves. That's just part of being a goaltender in the National Hockey League.

Gretz: How much do you know about your new goaltending coach, Sean Burke? I've heard a lot of good things about him. I spoke to Adrian Aucoin last year, for example, and he raved about how much Burke helped Bryzgalov's career go to another level, and you're arriving in Phoenix around the same age and around the same point in your career as Bryzgalov did.

Smith: I don't know a whole lot about him at this point, but what I do know is that from talking to him, I know a little bit about how he's gone through the same type of things I've been through in my career. That's big, having a goalie coach that's been through similar situations. He kind of bounced around early in his career, and then ended up finding his way toward the end of his career and ended up being an outstanding goaltender for a lot of years.

I think he feels he can help me in that way, because, well, he's been there and done that. I think he has a lot of knowledge that I may not know about yet, and I'm really excited about learning from him and getting better. Just from talking to him, it excites me a lot and I'm looking forward to meeting him and getting to work with him.

Gretz: It seems like the free agent market has been kind of rough for goalies in recent years, simply because there are so few openings around the league right now, especially this offseason. For one, it's not like a team carries four or five left wings or seven defensemen; there are only two goalies on the roster and only one plays in a given game (usually, unless it's a bad night for somebody). Did you have any issues finding interested teams or finding an open spot?

Smith: I know there were a few teams interested. I'm not exactly sure which ones, but talking with my agent and going to free agency we knew we might have an opportunity to get a chance to play. It's definitely exciting that Phoenix is giving me that chance, and getting a chance to reunite with Tip and work with Sean is very exciting. It was a stressful time, obviously, and it happened pretty quick after free agency started. But the first hour or so was pretty nerve-wracking and stressful, just not knowing where you're going to be.

Obviously, it was a different situation for me this year having never been an unrestricted free agent before. Having to go through that was a different experience, but I'm very excited to be a part of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Gretz: I'm sure you've been asked this more than once since you've joined the Coyotes, but is there any extra pressure for you having to go in and replace a pretty productive player in Bryzgalov? Or do you just go in and say, forget all of that, I'm Mike Smith, I'm going to play my game and be who I am because that's why they signed me?

Smith: Yeah, absolutely. You can never look at it like that because there's always been great goaltenders on every team that you play for, so they're always going to make comparisons. The main thing is I know I'm capable of playing really well. I know 'Bryz' did some outstanding things in Phoenix and has had a great career so far and will probably continue to do so in Philly, but I'm not going there with the expectation of surpassing him.

I'm just going to go there and take it one game at a time, play up to my capability, and if I do that,  good things are going to happen for me.

Gretz: You've always been regarded as a pretty good puck-handler, so I wanted to get your opinion on this as a goalie because it is, quite possibly, my least favorite rule in the NHL. The trapezoid rule. Hockey is game of flow, and I'm simply not a fan of limiting the movements of one of the players on the ice. Thoughts?

Smith: Absolutely. I feel that I've worked on this skill that I've gained throughout my whole career, and they're limiting that and taking it away from a goaltender that's able to do it. I compare it to a defenseman that's a good puck-rusher and scores a lot of points. It would be like saying a defenseman can't go below the hashmarks to score or get the puck. That's how I look at it. They're never going to do that because it would limit scoring chances.

I feel like it can actually help to put more scoring chances in the game and keep the game flowing more. There's times where you can go and stop the puck and move it. So, no, I don't like the rule, personally. I don't think the rule really does all that much because if you're a good puck-mover you're going to find a way to go out there and get the puck anyway.

Gretz: Finally, you're going to a team that has the NHL's most well-known Tweeter in Paul Bissonnette. Can we find you on Twitter or any other social media site?

Smith: (Laughs) No, no. Not yet. Talking to people in the media world, they've said I would be really good at something like that, but I haven't ventured that way yet, and I don't plan to in the near future. But you never know down the road. It might end up being something I get into. But as of right now, I'm not.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:28 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:10 am

Teams closing in on the salary cap

By: Adam Gretz

On Monday we looked at the seven NHL teams that are still sitting below the NHL's salary floor and the work they need to do to reach it. But what about the teams that are closing in on the $64.3 million cap? Here's a quick look at the five teams that are closest to it, the amount of cap space they have remaining, the number of players they currently have under contract and the number of restricted free agents they have unsigned.

All salary figures come via CapGeek.
  • Buffalo Sabres, $354,693, 20 players under contract, three restricted free agents
  • Washington Capitals, $394,842, 22 players under contract, one restricted free agent
  • Philadelphia Flyers, $1.5 million, 22 players under contract, zero restricted free agents
  • Pittsburgh Penguins, $2.1 million, 22 players under contract, zero restricted free agents
  • Calgary Flames, $3.8 million, 21 players under contract, one restricted free agent
Clearly, the Buffalo Sabres have some work to do with only $354,693 in cap space and only 20 players under contract, only one of which is a goaltender. Patrick Lalime is an unrestricted free agent, while Jhonas Enroth is one of the club's three restricted free agents. The Sabres have added some large contracts this summer in Christian Ehrhoff, Ville Leino and Robyn Regehr, pushing them to the limits of the cap.

After picking up Regehr in a trade with the Calgary Flames, Ehrhoff's negotiating rights were acquired just before the start of the free agent signing period and he was quickly locked up with a 10-year, $40 million deal. On July 1, Leino signed a six-year, $27 million deal. Teams are allowed to exceed the cap during the summer, so the Sabres still have plenty of time to jettison some salary to fill out the remainder of the roster. But who do you sacrifice if you're the Sabres? Perhaps a player like Shaone Morrisonn? Ales Kotalik? Jochen Hecht? If the Sabres want to carry a 23-man roster this season, somebody is going to have to go.

The Washington Capitals have made a series of moves themselves, bringing in Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer, Roman Hamrlik and Tomas Vokoun, as well as re-signing Brooks Laich. Last week, the club shipped Eric Fehr and his $2.2 million cap hit to the Winnipeg Jets to clear some much-needed cap space as the club still needs to sign its remaining restricted free agent, defenseman Karl Alzner.

No team has had a bigger change to the makeup of its roster this summer than the Philadelphia Flyers, and while they traded two lengthy contracts (Jeff Carter and Mike Richards ... arguably their best players) they still have some potential long-term problems, none of which could be bigger in the future than the one belonging to defenseman Chris Pronger. He is still signed for another six years, and at the age of 36, isn't getting any younger on the blue line.

After they traded Carter and Richards and allowed Leino to hit the free agent market, the Flyers replaced them with Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr, Max Talbot and the players acquired in the two trades (Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn). They have no remaining restricted free agents.

The Penguins, it seems, have become the greatest example for teams with salary cap constraints due to the amount of money they have invested in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. (Both players have average annual salaries of $8.7 million.) As I've written in the past, this isn't quite as big a concern as it's often made out to be because their money is invested in elite, All-Star level players. Many of the top teams (Detroit, Vancouver, Chicago, Washington, San Jose ... pretty much any of the Stanley Cup contenders) that are pressed against the cap every year have close to (or more than) 50 percent of their cap space tied up in just five players. The Penguins are no different.

On Tuesday the team signed Dustin Jeffrey, their only remaining restricted free agent, to a two-year contract.

Finaly, we have the Flames. In late June they completed the previously mentioned trade with Buffalo involving Regehr to shed some salary. They followed that up by bringing back veteran forward Alex Tanguay, signing him to a five-year contract. Their remaining restricted free agent is defenseman Brendan Mikkelson. With 22 players under contract and still over $3 million in cap space, they should be in solid shape regarding the cap.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 2:29 pm

Daily Skate: NHL wins beer fight, Bryzgalov ready

By Brian Stubits

BEER LEAGUE: The NHL received some great news early on Tuesday when word came down that the league's sponsorship deal with Molson Coors to make it the official beer of the NHL for a reported $375 million would stand. The contention regarded Labatt's relationship with the NHL, with Labatt's saying it already had the rights to the Canadian teams. In the end, it's a huge win for the league, which had a lot of money to be won in the deal.

UP TO THE TASK: Will there be a more scrutinized goaltender next season than Ilya Bryzgalov? The Flyers reconstructed their roster partly to get Bryzgalov on the roster and minding the net so the pressure will be heavy in that regard. Plus, it's Philadelphia and the city hasn't had the Stanley Cup since 1975. The pressure can be a burden. But Bryzgalov is ready to handle the heat. "I want to be the guy who can carry this team," Bryzgalov said yesterday in a conference call. The spotlight's on.

WINGING IT: Yesterday, colleague Adam Gretz told you about the very limited options the Red Wings have in net to back up Jimmy Howard. Detroit GM Ken Holland is working through the issue, too, signing Joey MacDonald yesterday to a two-way deal and now stating his desire to get in touch with Chris Osgood about another season in Hockeytown. If it's not Osgood, Holland also would be interested in talking to former Wing Ty Conklin.

HOWDY SCOTT: With every passing day, fans get more and more access to the inner workings of the sports world. The latest is the outreach from Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, who recently joined Twitter (@GMScottHowson) and started blogging -- joining Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis in that department. Howson is surprisingly open in things he posts, not being as secretive as one might expect. In his most recent blog entry, he recounts the past few weeks of numerous transactions both for the Jackets and the NHL as a whole.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 9, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: July 9, 2011 1:36 pm

Daily Skate: Flyers shopping Bobrovsky?

By: Adam Gretz

PHILADELPHIA SHOPPING BOBROVSKY? After a promising start to his rookie season it appeared that Sergei Bobrovsky was going to be the goaltender of the future for the Philadelphia Flyers. Now that the team has acquired Ilya Bryzgalov, and signed him to a nine-year, $50 million contract, Bobrovsky's role with the club is up in the air. According to Frank Seravalli of Philly.com, the Flyers are apparently shopping Bobrovsky in a trade, even though general manager Paul Holmgren denied it. It might be tough to move a goaltender at this point in the offseason given how few openings there are at the position around the league. Last week the Avalanche gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire Semyon Varlamov from the Capitals, who then turned around and signed free agent Tomas Vokoun to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Bobrovsky started 52 games for the Flyers last season, winning 28, and finishing with a .915 save percentage.

NEW YORK RE-SIGNS ANISIMOV, SAUER The New York Rangers signed a pair of their restricted free agents on Friday, agreeing to terms with forward Artem Anisimov and defenseman Michael Sauer. The 23-year-old Anisimov set career highs across the board last season, finishing with 18 goals and 26 assists in 82 games. His deal is a two-year contract. Sauer, also 23, is coming off his rookie season with the club where he played in 76 games, recording three goals to go with 12 assists while averaging over 17 minutes of ice-time per game.

MARTINEZ AVOIDS ARBITRATION Defenseman Alec Martinez and the Los Angeles Kings avoided salary arbitration on Friday by agreeing to a two-year contract. He had five goals and 11 assists a year ago. Los Angeles still needs to work out a deal with its other restricted free agent along the blue line, 21-year-old sensation Drew Doughty.

ARBITRATION DATES ANNOUNCED All of the scheduled arbitration dates were released on Friday, and you can check them all out at the NHLPA website. Some of the big ones: Brandon Dubinsky (Rangers), July 21; Ryan Callahan (Rangers), July 28; Shea Weber (Predators), August 2; Zach Parise (Devils), August 3. Deals can still be worked out prior to the arbitration dates to avoid the awkwardness -- and brutal honesty -- that often comes during the hearings.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 7, 2011 5:16 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 6:06 pm

Wayne Simmonds signs with Flyers

Wayne Simmonds

By: Adam Gretz

Wayne Simmonds was one of the key pieces acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers during their massive -- and surprising -- roster overhaul last month. He joined the team as part of the trade that sent former captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles and landed the Flyers Simmonds, top prospect Brayden Schenn and a 2012 second-round draft pick.

Eligible for restricted free agency, the Flyers still needed to work out a deal with the 22-year-old forward. They managed to do just that on Thursday afternoon by signing him to a two-year contract that carries an average annual salary of $1.75 million, according to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia.

In 80 games with Los Angeles last season, Simmonds scored 14 goals to go with 16 assists. He's scored 39 goals in 240 career games.

Simmonds is a nice young player, but he, along with Schenn and Jakub Voracek (acquired as part of the Jeff Carter trade), has some large skates to fill this season. The Flyers offseason has essentially seen them lose Richards, Carter and Ville Leino (three of their top-five scorers from a year ago and their best two-way player), as well as role players like Darroll Powe, Daniel Carcillo and Sean O'Donnell. The club is replacing them with nine years of Ilya Bryzgalov, a 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr, Max Talbot, Andreas Lilja and a collection of young players with talent and upside, but it's far from a guarantee that these players will ever reach the level of the players they're replacing.

That's a sizable risk both in the short-term and the long-term.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: June 23, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 5:42 pm

Busy Flyers ship Carter, Richards; add Bryzgalov

The Philadelphia Flyers afternoon of blockbuster moves has concluded. Maybe.

The Flyers made three massive moves in as many hours on Thursday, signing Ilya Bryzgalov for nine years, $51 million after trading captain Mike Richards to the L.A. Kings for Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds and Jeff Carter to the Blue Jackets.

Before it could sign goaltender Bryzgalov to a new contract, the Flyers had to release some salary. Just nobody expected them to release THIS much salary.

The moves started when Philly sent Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jake Voracek, the No. 8 pick in Friday's draft and a third-round selection as well.

The Carter deal itself wasn't surprising. A few weeks ago we noted a report that the Flyers had been discussing trading Carter with the Blue Jackets, but the biggest obstacle was Carter's massive contract, both in length (through 2020-21) and in dollar figures ($5.272 million per season). But if they were to sign Bryzgalov, who's rights they obtained from Phoenix earlier this month, they would have to clear space to get under the salary cap.

The Blue Jackets are clearly pleased with landing a scorer like Carter. “The Columbus Blue Jackets are very pleased and excited to acquire Jeff Carter,” GM Scott Howson said. “Jeff is a proven number one center in the National Hockey League and we look forward to him having many productive seasons as a Blue Jacket.”

Rick Nash in Columbus is the biggest beneficiary, and is understandably excited, telling Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch "We needed a guy like this. [Opponents] can't just key on one guy. The best teams have two guys. This is a huge help, not just for me but for the whole team." That is a line now that could realistically provide 75-85 goals next season for the Jackets.

It was the second move that came as a surprise and left people wondering what was GM Paul Holmgren's plan. Richards isn't known for being the most captain-like guy in the NHL and has another hefty contract ($5.75 million until 2019-20), but it seemed like the Flyers could sign Bryzgalov in clearing just one player, specifically Carter.

But this was a team that seemed like it was just a goaltender away, so getting rid of two offensive standouts begs the question if they aren't swinging too far in the other direction. Only time will tell, but it sure is hard for me to see the Flyers improved today. They are certainly still a favorite to make it into the playoffs, but did they chances at winning the Stanley Cup go up? I'm not sold the answer is yes.

"I just got home and I was surprised. You wouldn't think that those two guys would be leaving any time soon," Flyers forward Claude Giroux told Frank Saravali of the Philadelphia Daily News. "But I guess it's just part of the business. It's going to be a fresh start for both of those guys. For the rest of us, it's going to be a challenge. We still have a lot of veterans but different young guys are going to need to step up now."

The Kings, however, just got a lot tougher in the already competitive Pacific Division.

“We felt at this stage of the franchise it was time to make a significant move for an impact player," Kings GM Dean Lombardi said. Mike Richards is not only one of the top players in the league, he’s also universally recognized as one of the finer leaders in the game and one of its elite competitors. Additionally, given that he’s only 26-years-old and he’s on a long-term contract, he fits our plan now and for the long-term future.”

Bryzgalov will make an average of $5.67 million per season (the presumably front-loaded salary will pay as much as a reported $10 million) over the length of the contract, but at this point it's unsure how much room the Flyers will have under the cap to find some help to fill the offensive void left by Carter and Richards.

Betwen Carter and Richards, the Flyers are losing a combined 59 goals (36 for Carter last season, 23 for Richards) and 73 assists (30, 43 respectively). However, in return they get Voracek (14 goals, 32 assists) from Columbus and then Schenn (young center with just nine career games) and Simmonds (14/16 for the Kings last season).

-- Brian Stubits (A.J. Perez contributed to this report)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 22, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 3:14 pm

Flyers deny reports of deal with Bryzgalov

For a little while on Tuesday, it looked like the Flyers had their goalie locked up. Those were the reports circling the Internet, including from Hockeycentral's Nick Kypreos. Then came Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.

"We are continuing to try and reach an agreement with Ilya, but it is safe to say that we are not close to achieving this.”

So put the party on hold for the time being. Nobody doubts a deal will get reached, but the Flyers say it hasn't happened yet. When it does, the numbers that continue to be thrown out are in the $7 million per year range, which we met with a bit of an Excuse Me?!? in the Morning Skate today.

If that ends up being the number, Philly can't announce a deal yet anyway. They have to first be able to squeeze him in under the salary cap, which just jumped to $64 million. Perhaps that's the source of denials, Holmgren is busy number-crunching and seeing how much of the rest of his roster he wants to sacrifice to ink Bryzgalov.

Bryzgalov's rights were acquired by the Flyers earlier this month for a third-round pick, Matt Clackson and future considerations. The Flyers wouldn't have given that up if they didn't fully expect to keep Bryzgalov in town.

Last season for the Coyotes, Bryzgalov was 36-20-10 with a 2.48 GAA and .921 save percentage. In the playoffs, he and the Coyotes struggled to the tune of a sweeping exit to Detroit in the first round.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com