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Oilers agree to sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to one-year contract
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (30), of Russia, celebrates with Luke Schenn (22), Kimmo Timonen (44), of Finland, and Sean Couturier (14) at the end of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Saturday, March 30, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, November 8, 2013 6:06PM MST
Last Updated Friday, November 8, 2013 6:33PM MST
EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers have a verbal agreement in place to sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a one-year contract, the team announced.
Bryzgalov's deal was contingent upon the completion of the Oilers' trade with the Calgary Flames that cleared defenceman Ladislav Smid's US$3.5-million cap hit off the books. It was not immediately clear what Bryzgalov's contract was worth, but a source said recent negotiations involved talks about a pro-rated US$3-million salary.
The Philadelphia Flyers bought out of the final seven years of Bryzgalov's US$51-million, nine-year contract last off-season. The 33-year-old goaltender went to training camp with the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers on a tryout but never signed a deal with that club.
Bryzgalov went 19-17-3 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .900 save percentage last season for the Flyers. The Oilers are in Philadelphia to play the Flyers on Saturday, and while Bryzgalov still lives in the area it was not clear if he would start or be in uniform.
To set up the signing, the Oilers began their shake-up by sending Smid and goaltending prospect Olivier Roy to Calgary in exchange for centre Roman Horak and goaltending prospect Laurent Brossoit.
At 4-11-2, the Oilers are in last place in the NHL's Pacific Division, so the deal does not come as a surprise.
Going into Friday's games, Edmonton was ranked last in the league with 3.82 goals-against. Goaltenders Devan Dubnyk, Jason LaBarbera and Richard Bachman were part of that, but there was also a belief the Oilers wanted to shore up their defence.
Instead, they traded from their blue-line by dealing Smid to the Flames. The 27-year-old had one goal and one assist in 17 games and averaged more than two minutes a night on the penalty kill.
The Oilers were not up against the cap ceiling, though it's uncertain what other moves general manager Craig MacTavish has in store. He and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe have seen scouted the New York Rangers and Flyers recently.
Signing Bryzgalov marks a major move for the Oilers, who have a team save percentage of .879 this season. In his NHL career Bryzgalov has a .913 save percentage.
His history with the city of Edmonton dates to 2006 when he defended then-Anaheim Ducks teammate Chris Pronger for requesting to be traded from the Oilers. Bryzgalov compared it to the "North Pole."
"He may be tried to leave here because here in November months is a minus-32," Bryzgalov said in an interview with The Score. "Could you imagine? It's eight months in a year of snow."
When playing for the Phoenix Coyotes amid rumours of the team moving to Winnipeg, Bryzgalov said he wouldn't like to live there because of a lack of parks and fellow Russians.
Smid, who was sent from Anaheim to Edmonton as part of the Pronger trade, has 11 goals, 54 assists and 391 penalty minutes over 474 games with the Oilers. He is known as a shutdown defenceman and one of the league's best shot blockers.
Roy was selected in the fifth round, 133rd overall, by Edmonton in 2009. He had a stellar junior career with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but has yet to suit up for an NHL game.
He may get that chance in Calgary. The Flames have struggled for consistency in goal in their first season without Finnish workhorse Miikka Kiprusoff, who retired at the end of last season.
Roy, 22, split last season between the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons and the ECHL's Stockton Thunder. He had a 2-2 record with a 3.29 GAA and .897 save percentage with the Barons this season.
Horak, 22, has spent the past three seasons with the Flames, registering five goals, 13 assists and 16 penalty minutes in 82 games. He has 20 goals and 21 assists in 86 games with AHL's Abbotsford.
Horak was originally selected by the New York Rangers in the fifth round, 127th overall in the 2009 draft.
Brossoit, 20, has spent the past four seasons with the Western Hockey League's Edmonton Oil Kings, posting a record of 88-34-13 in 146 career WHL games.
In 2011-12, the native of Port Alberni, B.C., helped lead the Oil Kings to the best record in the WHL, posting a record of 42-13-5, including three shutouts.
He went 16-4-0 in the post-season and was named the playoff MVP as the Oil Kings won the WHL championship and earned a berth in the Memorial Cup Tournament.
Brossoit was originally selected by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round, 164th overall in the 2011 draft. He's in his first professional season.