Before I begin, keep in mind that I am a Leino fan and would like him to return the Flyers, but not if they overpay him. I’d also love to see Bryzgalov get a shot over here and bring his talents to our team so close to a championship. But with the salary cap and the market, in my opinion there’s a chance they will not be here next year. And here’s why.
Ville Leino will be 28 at the start of next season, and Ilya Bryzgalov will turn 31 by the time free-agency on July 1st rolls around. Why won’t the Flyers sign them? Simply because they both are set up to be paid big in this contract. Three years from now, neither of them will be able to command as much money or as many years as they can now. Ville Leino has been trying to strike the NHL for years, and finally got his shot to show his stuff last year in the playoffs. Ilya Bryzgalov has been the best player on the Coyotes for years now, and he wants to get paid and win some games before he’s too old to do so. It only makes sense that these guys are going to go after bigger contracts with more financial security.
Ville Leino wants to stay in Philadelphia, we all know that. He has good chemistry with his linemates, and he fits in a lot better here than he did in Detroit. But how much will that affect his decision making when he could easy make $3.5 million in another city that has money to splurge? (New York Islanders, Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Unknowns, Florida Panthers, etc.) As I’ve said in previous posts, I want Leino to stay. Quality wingers are in short supply in our franchise, and he is a great forward with some nice moves and strength on the puck. But if he asks for more than $3 million, I expect the Flyers to let him walk. We have to sign JVR next year to a new contract, and if next season is anything like his performance down the stretch this past season, he’s going to deserve a substantial raise.
Ilya Bryzgalov has been rumored to liking Philadelphia as a possible destination for his next job, but at what price? He might be willing to take a smaller salary to play for a contending hockey club, but I can’t see him willing to get too underpaid on what should be his last big pay day. If the Flyers do want to sign him, it would be upwards of $5-$6 million. They have to trade some salary away (Versteeg, Carle, maybe Carter, etc.) in order to be salary cap compliant for the year, and they arguably still have a void or two to fill on defense or forward.
July 1st is about a month away, and it will be very hard to figure out what Holmgren will do. He always seems to get creative around this time, maybe he can trade Leino’s rights at the draft if they can’t reach an agreement with him? Will they trade one of their core forwards? It’s going to be a very exciting early July this year, I hope we get what we need… as long as the price is right.