The Minnesota Wild chose to make a low risk move a day before the trade deadline, acquiring goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers. The move cost the Wild nearly nothing, just a 4th round draft pick in the upcoming draft. After a nearly a week of speculation in which the Wild had been linked to Martin Brodeur and Jaroslav Halak, the Wild settled for the less sought after Bryzgalov. He will likely assume the backup position immediately behind Darcy Kuemper.
Bryzgalov certainly doesn’t have the luster that other goalies on the trade block have, but he is a much more affordable option than other goalies. Surrendering only a 4th round draft pick to slightly solidify the goaltending position behind Kuemper was a wise move by GM Chuck Fletcher. The popular and “colorful” goalie will be a free agent at the end of this season and will backup Kuemper for the remainder of this season unless his game falls off a cliff
Since signing a 9-year $51 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers and fulfilling only 2 years, Bryzgalov has bounced around all levels of hockey. As early as October, he was trying out for the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL, trying to redeem a once promising career. Nearly a month later, he signed with the Edmonton Oilers in an attempt to rekindle his career in the NHL. Playing behind one of the most porous defensive units in the Western Conference, he surrendered a 3.01 GAA with a .908 save percentage. At this point in his career, Bryzgalov has nowhere to go but up with the Minnesota Wild.
Fans may have wanted a more high profile name to enter the fold, but Bryzgalov isn’t a bad alternative. If he is able to regain even a shell of his former self, the Wild will come out winners in this trade. Minnesota also gave up nearly nothing to acquire him from the Oilers. The amount of young talent currently in the farm system in Des Moines allows them to sacrifice draft picks to help the big club.
When you look at the situation Minnesota is currently in, it’s obvious they had to make a move. The team has no healthy alternatives behind Kuemper, and Bryzgalov is now that option. He costs far less than Brodeur or Halak, the two goalies fans likely wanted the most. Plus, the wild have no long term commitment to Bryzgalov, who will likely be playing elsewhere next year. If anything, as fans have seen in the past, Ilya Bryzgalov is always good for a memorable quote in the newspapers.