Mr. Universe Heads to Vegas, Baby!

Show of hands, who had Ilya Bryzgalov heading to the ECHL after being cut loose by the Philadelphia Flyers? That’s what I thought. The $23 million man is taking his talents to the desert of Nevada on a tryout basis with the the Las Vegas Wranglers according to the club. Bryz released a statement claiming he plans to go to Vegas since he did not attend an NHL training camp and wants to be ready in case the NHL comes calling.
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Flyers Buyout Bryz’s Humongous Big Contract

The Bryzgalov era is over in the city of brotherly love. No more talk of the universe, tigers, or space in the depths of Wells Fargo Center as yesterday saw the Flyers part ways with hockey’s most interesting player.
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Andrei on-the-Mark-ov earns Comrade of the Night

(photo courtesy of theprovince.com)

On a night where many Russian NHL’ers were getting their first goals or wins of the season, one man stood above the rest. Having only suited up 17 times for the Montreal Canadiens since Nov. 9, 2010, Andrei Markov scored two goals against the Florida Panthers and showed (at least for one night) that he still has quite the cannon from the point. Finally past the two anterior cruciate ligament surgeries on his right knee, Markov showed little hesitance on using his beloved slapshot, making netminder Scott Clemmensen look absolutely hapless on both goals.
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What about Bob? Sergei Headed to Columbus

(courtesy of Getty Images)

With just hours to go until the 2012 NHL draft gets underway in Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Flyers announced they had sent 23-year-old netminder Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets. There had been much talk leading up to the draft that the Novokuznetsk native would be moved by GM Paul Holmgren and as luck would have it, the Flyers exchanged him for 3 draft picks on starting goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s birthday.
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Flyers sign Bryzgalov to nine-year $51 million contract

If you plan to become rich in the NHL perhaps you should look into changing your name to Ilya. For the second consecutive summer, players with the name have seen big money and big contracts while coincidentally playing in the same division. Last year, it was the Kovalchuk saga which saw the then 27-year-old sign a 15-year $100 million with the New Jersey Devils. This year, Ilya Bryzgalov joins the fun, signing a nine-year $51 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers a week before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
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Waive Bye-Bye to Nikolay

A 15 goal season to date is not something to scoff at in today’s NHL.  However, if you score 15 goals and fail to abide by Peter Laviolette’s system, that apparently warrants subsequent benching and a waiving of your 2 million dollar contract.  Now Nikolai Zherdev waits for yet another possible destination in his long road to redemption in the NHL.

From the beginning of the season, it should have been clear to the Flyers ‘higher-ups’ thought that Zherdev was a player who put his needs before the team’s.  In his days with Columbus and New York, Nikolai was never talked about as a “team player.”  In his first few games, Flyers fans were treated to many dazzling tricks the Ukrainian-born, Zherdev, had to offer.  He used his impressive stick-handling to elude defenders and create offensive opportunities.  But there is always a price to pay no matter how much talent one player possesses.  Zherdev’s defensive game, inconsistent play, and, ultimately, his lack of effort, did not sit well with Flyers coach, Peter Laviolette.
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Comrade of the Night-Evgeni Malkin


(Courtesy of Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Evgeni Malkin returned to the Penguins line-up ahead of the “Battle of Pennsylvania” after missing four games with a lower-body injury. He made his presence known by scoring the only goals for the Pens as their 12-game winning streak was halted by the Flyers.

Malkin tied the game for the Pens twice, first in the second period by beating Brian Boucher on a one-timer from the left circle and then from the blue-line in the final frame before Scott Hartnell got the eventual winner. Malkin had 8 shots on net for tops overall and finished with a +/- of -1.
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Comrade of the Night – Nikolai Khabibulin

The Nyet Minder (cbc.ca)

The 2009-10 season is one the Edmonton Oilers want to forget as soon as humanly possible. Nikolai Khabibulin is no different, thanks to injury problems and off-ice troubles. But, as always when a new season begins, teams are reborn with a clean slate.

If first impressions tell anything, the Oilers and the Bulin Wall have a lot to look forward to in 2010. The 37-year-old nyet-minder from Yekaterinburg stopped all 37 shots he faced as he helped the Oilers shut out the rival Calgary Flames 4-0 on Opening Night. Playing in his first game since last November, Khabibulin looked to be in midseason form from the drop of the puck.

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Zherdev arrives in the Nik of time

It is ironic that Nikolai Zherdev left for the KHL last season after having some top-notch years under his belt in the NHL (Three 50+ point seasons to be exact).  It is ironic Nikolai Zherdev after only one year of KHL play, he decided he wanted to come back to the league that shunned him away.  It is ironic that Nikolai Zherdev has come back to North America with a new attitude that couldn’t even be altered by the likes of Sergei Fedorov in his time with the Jackets.  It is even more ironic that the team willing to take the gamble to acquire him didn’t have a great deal of cap room and has been known not to have an affinity for Eastern Europeans throughout their team’s history.

Questions surrounding Nikolai Zherdev’s work ethic and ability to adhere to the teams style of play have always been brought up ever since he was drafted 4th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2004.  Zherdev was never the guy to play by anyone’s rules.  The world was his oyster and it revolved around him 24/7/365.  His production, or, in 2006-07, the lack thereof, ranked higher on his pedestal than the benefit and progression of his team as a whole.  So why, on Earth, would a player with his talent, skillset, vision, as well as his lack of drive, want to come back to a league that had put red flags around his name since he boarded his plane for a one-way ticket back to the KHL?
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Russian Rookies Set for NHL Pre-Season Debuts in Philadelphia

The NHL pre-season gets underway tonight with nine games on tap around the league. One that we are keeping our eyes on tonight is the New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center which will feature the debuts of Devils winger’ Alexander Vasyunov and Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Vasyunov was selected to travel with the Devils for their first game after netting the over-time winner in yesterday’s scrimmage.

The 22-year-old Yaroslav native who spent last season with the Lowell Devils where he scored 15 goals and added 13 assists knows head coach John MacLean sees potential in his game as MacLean coached the farm club before being promoted this summer to the NHL. Vasyunov admitted he was nervous in his first appearance with the team that drafted him in 2006, telling beat reporters “before the game, maybe 30 minutes. Especially then I will be nervous.” Vasyunov has twice represented Russia in the World U18 Championship and the World U20 Championship in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
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