Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov led the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to a Stanley Cup title six years ago. Two years ago, Bryzgalov signed a nine-year $51 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Bryzgalov (pronounced briz-GAL-ahv) is expected to be in net for the Oklahoma City Barons this weekend.
On Tuesday, however, in the annual kids field trip game at 10:30 a.m. at the Cox Convention Center, Bryzgalov is not expected to play.
“These type of situations don't happen very often, but it's a product of the current situation,” said Barons general manager Bill Scott. “They're looking for a solution in Edmonton. It's all about wins and losses in the NHL.”
Bryzgalov, a 33-year-old from Russia, hasn't played since last April. Bought out of his contract by the Flyers last spring, Bryzgalov was coaching his son's team in New Jersey before he signed with Edmonton last week for $2 million.
In 425 NHL games, Bryzgalov has compiled a 2.55 goals against average. He's in OKC on a conditioning assignment that can last up to 14 days.
The Bryzgalov signing continues an unusual turnover in net for the Barons.
Richard Bachman and Olivier Roy, the two goalies that started the season with the Barons, are gone.
Bachman, the Dallas Stars backup the past two years, began the season in OKC. After getting off to a solid start with the Barons, he was promoted by Edmonton. He started three games for the Oilers before suffering a groin injury and will be sidelined six weeks.
Roy was traded last week to the Calgary Flames in a four-player deal in which Edmonton acquired goaltender Laurent Brossoit (pronounced BOSS-wah).
A highly rated prospect in his first year of pro hockey, Brossoit, 20, should spend most of the season in Oklahoma City. It's uncertain who will be the Barons other goaltender once Bryzgalov joins Edmonton.
“It's definitely not a situation we've encountered here our first three years,” Scott said. “Our guys understand this is part of the process. No matter how all this turns out, we're going to have a pretty good goalie here. Our focus is to play a solid game in front of whoever is net.”
Bolstered by first-round picks such as Jordan Eberle and No. 1 overall picks Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov, the Oilers were projected to be a viable playoff contender this season.
Instead, Edmonton is in last place in the Western Conference, having allowed a league high 75 goals. The Oilers are off to such a rocky start (4-13-2) they could fall out of the playoff race before Christmas.
With No. 1 goaltender Devan Dubnyk in the final year of his contract, the Oilers are expected to split duties between Dubnyk and Bryzgalov the remainder of the season to determine their starter next season.
The most likely scenario is Edmonton will cut Jason LaBarbera, a 33-year-old career NHL backup who signed a one-year $1 million deal. But he could end up in Oklahoma City.
LaBarbera would have to clear waivers to join OKC. When the dust settles, Tyler Bunz, currently on Oklahoma City's roster, most like will return to Edmonton's Double-A affiliate in Bakersfield (Calif.) of the ECHL. Regardless how it shakes out, the Barons other goalie might be an NHL veteran.
“You have to win in the NHL,” Scott said. “We might end up with someone with a lot of experience the next couple of weeks. We'll just take it day to day and see what happens.”