When the Edmonton Oilers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a one-year deal at the beginning of November, the responses varied from laughing and rolling in the aisles to a sustained belief that the netminder could come in and make a difference for one of the worst teams in hockey.
For the most part, opinions fell somewhere between those two options (comedian or savior). The louder majority has been the groupof people who want to ridicule Edmonton and their move to acquire Bryzgalov. They point to how poorly things went for him in Philadelphia and wonder how things could go much better for the Oilers.
What no one really seems to be considering is the opposite end of the spectrum. Seriously, what happens if Bryzgalov goes on an absolute tear in Edmonton? What if he returns to his former high level of play for the Oilers and catapults them into several long winning streaks?
The playoffs are just about out of the question, but if Bryzgalov plays up to his ceiling, it could leave management and the Oilers in quite the predicament. He is only just now about to make his first start as a member of this team, so perhaps wondering what would happen if he found a way to dominate is premature.
Bryzgalov will start vs. Nashville on Thursday. Coach Eakins adds he’d also like to get Jones and Arcobello back in the lineup.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 26, 2013
It’s still an interesting line of thought though.
For starters, where would that leave Devan Dubnyk? He’s been the goalie of the future for a while in Edmonton, and he didn’t start to play his best hockey until after Bryzgalov was signed. That’s probably no mistake either. Yet a quick glance at CapGeek for the Oilers shows you just how tricky this situation could get.
While Bryzgalov only inked a one-year deal, Dubnyk’s current two-year, $7 million contract expires this summer as well. That means that the Oilers have no goaltenders signed for next season and could be presented with a difficult choice if Bryzgalov plays up to his capabilities and inevitably asks for higher pay.
What would Edmonton do then?
Would Dubnky return to the Oilers if the team re-signed Bryzgalov? Any number of things could happen between now and free agency, but this is certainly a situation worth keeping an eye on. Everyone seems to assume that Bryzgalov won’t pan out in Edmonton, but what if he does?