Ilya Bryzgalov’s days in the desert are numbered

Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov of Russia sits in front of the goal after the Vancouver Canucks scored in the second period of their NHL hockey game in Glendale, Arizona, March 8, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

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Yesterday the Coyotes announced that they would be selling the rights to negotiate with their free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Matt Clackson, the Flyer’s 3rd round pick in 2012, and future considerations.

Bryzgalov has been one of the main reasons the Coyotes has made the playoffs the past 2 years, and was named team MVP this season. The one gripe about Bryzgalov though is that his post season play hasn’t been up to par. During the series against Detroit where the Coyotes got swept, Bryzgalov had a 4.36 GAA and only a .879 save percentage. These stats were down from the 2.48 GAA and .921 save percentage Bryzgalov put up in the regular season last year. This decision was more than likely made after Bryzgalov’s comments regarding not wanting to play in Winnipeg and amidst all the uncertainty of the clubs future. Now Bryzgalov will join the goalie carousel of Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher, and Michael Leighton in Philadelphia.

This decision to trade the negotiating rights of Bryzgalov away comes off the heels of the Coyotes re-signing back up netminder Jason LaBarbera to a two-year contract. LaBarbera posted a 7-6-3 record with a 3.26 GAA in 17 games of work last year for the Coyotes. He doesn’t quit have the talent Bryzgalov has, but he does know what it takes to be a starter as he was the starting goalie for the Los Angles Kings a few years back.

There are a few free agent goaltenders on the market that may spark interest from the Coyotes as a replacement for Bryzgalov. Ty Conklin is a good veteran netminder who could split time with LaBarbera. The Coyotes could also look to steal another goalie away from the Anaheim Ducks as Jonas Hiller is set to be a free agent this off season. The Ducks already have Ray Emery and Dan Ellis so their need for Hiller is slim.

The Coyotes may also look to promote from within and clear up cap space to go after a big name free agent. Simone Gagne or Erik Cole could be great additions to a team that is maybe one player away from breaking deep into the playoff bracket.

Only time will tell what the future holds for the Coyotes. One thing is certain though, that future doesn’t involve Ilya Bryzgalov.

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