Philly will regret this one in the morning
The least shocking part of today's crazy shakeup in Philadelphia was the signing of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to nine-year $51 million contract.
On a day when the Flyers may or may not have ripped the soul out of their team by trading Mike Richards, and also moved perennial 30-goal man Jeff Carter, they managed to saddle themselves with a ridiculous contract that became an albatross the second it was signed.
It wasn't shocking because shortly after they were eliminated from this spring's Stanley Cup playoffs, Flyers owner Ed Snider was quoted insisting his team find an established goalie no matter the cost.
"So either one of the goalies we have has to step up in training camp, or we have to make improvements to make sure it happens. But we are never going to go through the goalie issues we've gone through in the last couple of years. If we trade or go for a goalie [through free agency], we'll make it work. We can make anything work, even with the cap."
A few weeks later Philly traded for the rights to the soon-to-be unrestricted free-agent Byzgalov, who had quietly made it well known he wanted a deal in the neighbourhood of seven years and $49 million, and that meant a significant amount of dollars needed to be moved.
With a young Claude Giroux/JVR tandem and two highly skilled and dependable veterans in Daniel Briere and Chris Pronger, plus a pretty solid supporting cast, moving Richards or Carter is somewhat defensible.
But moving both to make room for Bryzgalov is not.
Committing dollars and length to a goalie in the salary cap system is not a good move, even with a cap that only goes up. Goaltenders are the easiest commodity to find. They are plentiful, they continue to flood the market, and therefore, they are cheap.
If I was Paul Holmgren, before finalizing the Bryzgalov contract I would've reached out to the Vancouver Canucks fans and asked them how they're feeling about being stuck with eleven more years of Roberto Luongo, then forwarded all the responses on to Ed Snider.
I would've pointed to Rick DiPietro.
Then I'd point in the other direction at Antti Niemi. And Brian Boucher or Michael Leighton. Corey Crawford. Craig Anderson.
Every year there are goalies who come out of nowhere and win or even steal games. Some get hot for one or two months, some for one or two years, and some prove they've got legitimate staying power. The difference in ability between the 3rd and 43rd best goalies in the world is fractional. You never know where or when you'll find a gem, or how long his game will last.
I'd also point to winning franchises like Detroit, Chicago and San Jose and the cheap and replaceable goaltending model they use.
Then I would've pointed back to DiPietro again.