Season in Review: Ilya Bryzgalov

Over the course of the next month, Konopkaesque will review each player who suited up for the Wild this season, with a few exceptions. 1) They had to play at least ten games during the season and/or playoffs (sorry, Brett Bulmer, Carson McMillan and John Curry) and 2) they had to finish the season as part of the organization, which ironically excludes the man for whom this blog is named, among others. 

-Sigh-

So, without further blathering, here’s today’s subject:

Ilya Bryzgalov, G, Age 33

Remaining contract (per capgeek): UFA in 2014

Statistically Speaking:

Games: 12 (Regular Season) 9 (Playoffs)

Record: 7-1-3 (Regular Season) 3-6 (Playoffs)

GAA: 2.13 (Regular Season) 2.63 (Playoffs)

Save Pct: .911 (Regular Season) .855 (Playoffs)

Shutouts: 3 (Regular Season) 1 (Playoffs)

What Did He Do?:With some adjustments for artistic license (which I’ll get to later), my feelings about Bryzgalov’s time with the Wild can best be summed up in this classic “Simpsons” scene:

 

Essentially it goes something like this. The Wild need a goalie at the trade deadline, and Chuck Fletcher steps up to the plate and makes a deal (that’s good!). The deal is for Ilya Bryzgalov (that’s bad). But wait! Bryzgalov is just here for insurance, in case something happens to Darcy Kuemper (that’s good!). Uh, oh, Kuemper just got hurt (that’s bad). But wait! Bryzgalov plays great down the stretch, helping the Wild qualify for the playoffs (that’s good!). So Ilya Bryzgalov will be Minnesota’s starting goalie for the playoffs…(that’s bad).

Look, there were a lot of goalies that were moved at the trade deadline, and from everything I read from Minnesota fans, Chuck Fletcher picked absolutely the wrong option. Everyone wanted the big play for Ryan Miller, or the slightly smaller play for Jaroslav Halak, even after he was traded for Miller. Looking back now, Miller was a disaster in St. Louis, and won’t be back. Halak was recycled to Washington, where he made more headlines by refusing to play against his old team, the Blues, than for anything he actually did in a game. Bryzgalov wasn’t amazing, and he was protected well by the Wild defense corps, but he did the job that needed to be done, namely, get the team down the stretch. Had Darcy Kuemper been healthy, Bryzgalov probably never have been in the net as much as he was. Had Kuemper not re-injured himself in game seven against Colorado, Bryzgalov never would have returned to the lineup.

Bryzgalov was not the reason the Wild lost to Chicago, in fact he made several excellent saves, and he cost a pittance compared to what St. Louis gave up for Miller, who was one of the main reasons St. Louis couldn’t beat the Blackhawks. I’d say young Chuck did just fine on this one, considering that neither player will be with the Wild in 2014-15.

What to Expect if You’re Expecting:  Don’t expect Bryzgalov to be back. The Wild will have two untradeable goalies back for training camp next year in Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom, and with Darcy Kuemper about to get into one-way contract country, there simply isn’t room for another veteran. In addition to that, for as useful as Bryzgalov was, he is not a number one goalie in the NHL, and you have to wonder how much he even likes playing the position anymore (and that’s assuming he ever really did). I have a feeling that if Bryz does play any hockey next year, it will be in the KHL.

Trade Prospects?:  Small outside chance he is dealt by the draft for a late round draft pick. Very small.

Season Highlight: Sure, I could show you any of his great saves from the Chicago series (the breakaway stop on Patrick Sharp and the close on flurry from Jeremy Morin in game four come to mind) but I’d rather show you a video of Bryz trolling the entire MTS Center crowd, when said Jets fans were taunting him during a late season contest:

 

Not many players would do something like that, but then again, the Bryz isn’t most players…or mammals, for that matter. As for Mike Johnson, the sour-pussed announcer on the broadcast (for Canadian television), perhaps he needs reminding that Ilya shutout the Jets that night? So long Bryz, and thanks for your contribution to the Wild. I take back all of that stuff I said about you at the deadline. Even if most of it is totally true.

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