The Philadelphia Flyers acquired the negotiating rights to Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Illya Bryzgalov Tuesday and the move could potentially affect two former Bemidji State hockey players – Matt Read and Matt Climie.
The push for the Russian is a bold move for the Flyers, which struggled with goaltending in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and are searching for a reliable No. 1 goalie. But Bryzgalov will not come cheap and rumors circulated Tuesday suggest he is seeking a seven-year, $49 million deal. He will become a free agent July 1.
The move for Bryzgalov means the Flyers are going to run into the salary cap and one of the team’s more expensive players will have to be moved if he is signed. A center seems to be the most likely option according to a report from the Philadelphia Daily News.
That is where Read could fit in as a versatile forward. He signed a three-year, one-way contract with the Flyers after BSU’s season ended. Read holds BSU’s Division I records for goals (65), assists (78), points (143) and games played (147).
Read played 10 games for the Adirondack Phantoms in the AHL at the end of last season. He scored seven goals and had six assists in those games with a plus-9 rating.
Philadelphia beat writer Chuck Gormley talked with Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren last week about offseason plans and Read came up in the conversation.
“I’m really excited to see him,” Holmgren said of Read. “Whether he’s ready right away or not, I don’t know.”
If Bryzgalov is signed, BSU fans will want to see what happens with unrestricted free agent Ville Leino. If Leino is not signed, there could be an opening on the roster for Read.
As Gormley points out, having Read replace Leino on the roster could potentially save the Flyers around $1.5 million in cap space and that would be beneficial in an effort to sign Bryzgalov.
Should Philadelphia and Bryzgalov come to an agreement, an announcement should be expected around the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, which will be held June 24-25 in St. Paul.
With Bryzgalov out of Phoenix and the signing of last year’s backup Jason LaBarbera to a two-year deal Monday, there will be a goaltender opening on the Coyotes’ roster.
Climie, who played for the Beavers from 2004-08, played last season with the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio. He played in 55 of the team’s 80 games and won 26 of those games. He had a 2.64 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.
Climie’s one-year contract expired at the end of the season and there is potential he could be re-signed. Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett coached Dallas when Climie made his rise from the ECHL to the AHL in the Stars organization.
Climie played in 43 games in the 2009-10 season for the AHL’s Texas Stars and was a big factor in the playoffs leading the team to the Calder Cup Finals. He won 21 games that season with a 2.46 goals against average and .919 save percentage.
Another BSU alum to watch in the NHL offseason is Andrew Murray (2001-05). The Columbus Blue Jackets forward is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
He played in 152 games for Columbus between 2007-10, but was limited to 29 games last season due to lower body injuries. Murray has 23 goals and 13 assists in his NHL career.