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Saturday Daily Puck: Breaking Bryz

Derek VanRiper

Derek VanRiper

Derek is the Senior Baseball Editor for RotoWire.com, where he's been a two-time finalist for the FSWA's Baseball Writer of the Year award, and winner of the Best Football Article on the Web (2009) and Best Baseball Article on the Web (2010) awards. Derek also co-hosts RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (XM 87, Sirius 210) from 11a-2p ET on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Around the Rink

Welcome back, Bryz!

Unless you are a Flyers fan, he's actually an enjoyable character.




To say that Bryzgalov has had an interesting career would be a huge understatement. Earlier this week, his name popped into my head when discussing the Ducks' recent track record of developing goaltenders.

Think about it.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere was drafted by the Whale in the first round of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, but his development didn't take off until he was traded once - to Calgary in 1997 - before the Ducks flipped a second-round pick to the Flames to acquire him in 2000. Things started to click for him in the AHL with the Ducks' affiliate in Cincinnati in 2000-01 and the rest is history.

Bryzgalov served as the backup to Giguere on the Ducks' Stanley Cup Championship squad in 2006-07, but was eventually waived when top prospect Jonas Hiller emerged as a capable replacement. The Coyotes profited from the Ducks' depth, getting Bryz for nothing and having him produce a save percentage of .920 or better in three of his four seasons with the Desert Dogs.

Hiller eventually took the torch from Giguere and has racked up a career 140-99-26 mark with a .917 save percentage and 2.51 GAA over 287 career games with Anaheim. Last season, Viktor Fasth emerged as a legitimate threat to his hold on the starting job, and now Frederik Andersen is proving capable of manning the pipes in Orange County as well.

The Oilers are a great example of a franchise that has been unable to develop a young goaltender for the better part of two decades. The type of organization that undoubtedly looks at a Western Conference rival like Anaheim and is annoyed by their steady success and consistent talent in goal. The long-term answer might come in the form of a trade.

Think Nail Yakupov might fetch a coveted franchise goaltender?

For now, it's another misfit toy, but maybe - just maybe - they've timed the market perfectly on a focused enigma, capable of tapping into the talent that prompted Paul Holmgren to make him a $51 million man.

At the very least, the move is a low-risk one that buys the front office more time to weigh the pros and cons of dealing a flashy talent like Yakupov.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

Oilers (Devan Dubnyk) at Flyers (Steve Mason), 1:00
Panthers (Tim Thomas) at Senators (Robin Lehner*), 2:00
Leafs (James Reimer) at Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7:00
Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Red Wings (Jimmy Howard*), 7:00
Wild (Niklas Backstrom) at Hurricanes (Justin Peters), 7:00
Islanders (Evgeni Nabokov) at Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 7:00
Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Blues (Jaroslav Halak), 8:00
Blackhawks (Corey Crawford*) at Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 8:00
Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Coyotes (Mike Smith), 8:00
Canucks (Roberto Luongo) at Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:00

*Confirmed

Injury News for Teams Playing Saturday

Oilers
Justin Schultz, D - (Groin) Skated on his own Friday; doubtful for the Oilers' weekend games.
David Perron, LW - (Neck) Skated during Friday's practice; could play this weekend.

Flyers
Steve Downie, RW - (Concussion) Targeting a return to the lineup Tuesday v. OTT.

Panthers
Tim Thomas, G - (Leg) Could start Saturday against the Senators.

Senators
Craig Anderson, G - (Neck) Healthy and available to play Saturday, but likely to serve as backup.

Leafs
Colton Orr, RW - (Undisclosed) Did not play Friday night; day-to-day.
Dave Bolland, C - (Ankle) Placed on long-term IR, will miss several months.
Mark Fraser, D - (Knee) Played 14:16 in return to the lineup Friday night.

Bruins
None

Lightning
None

Red Wings
Johan Franzen, C - (Illness) Placed on IR retroactive to Nov. 1; will not play Saturday.
Stephen Weiss, C - (Groin) Expected to miss 7-10 days.

Wild
Clayton Stoner, D - (Leg) Questionable for Saturday's game against Carolina.

Hurricanes
Jeff Skinner, LW - (Upper Body) Expected to miss a couple more weeks.
Tim Gleason, D - (Undisclosed) Workout off the ice on his own this week; return date unknown.

Islanders
Cal Clutterbuck, RW - (Upper Body) Day-to-day; status for weekend unclear.

Blue Jackets
R.J. Umberger, LW - (Neck) Questionable to play Saturday against the Islanders.
Ryan Murray, D - (Upper Body) Hopes to play Saturday despite missing Friday's practice.
Nick Foligno, LW - (Personal) Will not play Saturday; out indefinitely.
Boone Jenner, C - (Leg) Skated Friday; close to returning according to head coach Todd Richards.
Matt Calvert, LW - (Abdomen) Skating during practice; making progress toward a return.

Penguins
Beau Bennett, RW - (Lower Body) Likely to see first game action in a month Saturday v. STL.
Paul Martin, D - (Undisclosed) Probable to play Saturday against the Blues.
James Neal, RW - (Upper Body) Will not play against the Blues on Saturday.
Pascal Dupuis, RW - (Undisclosed) Participated in Friday's practice; should play Saturday.

Blues
Brenden Morrow, RW - (Upper Body) Participated in optional skate Friday; doubtful for Saturday.
Magnus Paajarvi, LW - (Upper Body) Making progress, but unlikely to play this weekend.

Blackhawks
Michal Handzus, C - (Hand) Sat out Friday's practice; very questionable to play this weekend.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, D - (Upper Body) Left Friday's practice with injury; still expects to play Saturday.

Stars
Tyler Seguin, C - (Mouth) Expected to play Saturday after suffering a cut Thursday.

Capitals
None

Coyotes
Radim Vrbata, RW - (Lower Body) Questionable to play against Washington; limited practice Friday.
Derek Morris, D - (Lower Body) Questionable to play against Washington; limited practice Friday.
David Schlemko, D - (Lower Body) Will play Saturday against the Caps.
Jeff Halpern, C - (Back) Scheduled to be activated from IR to play Saturday.

Canucks
None

Hot

Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI - Remember the Jarome Iginla comps during Okposo's days as an elite prospect? Perhaps he's finally tapping into the potential. A string of three straight multi-point effort to open November leaves him with five goals and 14 assists through 16 games. He's also cruising to the tune of a plus-7 rating thus far. Better late than never.

Alex Killorn, C, TAM - Plenty of owners buried the Bolts in the same fantasy grave as the Flames. All of the Frank's Red Hot and Cholula in the world won't make crow taste good. Killorn is currently on a 60-point pace, and has played at least 19 minutes in each of the past two games. With two goals and four assists (plus-7) over the last five contests, he's quietly pushed his total to 12 through 15 games this season.

Ben Bishop, G, TAM - The big man was buried on the depth chart in St. Louis as a prospect, and never had a chance of wrestling the Goaltender of the Future tag away from Robin Lehner in Ottawa while Craig Anderson held the No. 1 role. Now, Bishop is delivering elite ratios for the league's most surprising club and receiving consideration for the U.S. Olympic team. Bishop has allowed just four goals on 101 shots (.960 save percentage, 1.34 GAA) while winning each of his last three starts.

Cold

Eric Staal, C, CAR - Jeff Skinner hasn't played since October 24th, and it may not be a coincidence that Staal's production has fallen off in the six games since. With one assist and a minus-4 rating during that span, Staal has also failed to light the lamp in each of the Hurricanes' last eight contests.

Mike Ribeiro, C, PHO - Few expected a continuation of the point-per-game pace Ribeiro delivered last season with the Caps, but 11 points (5 G, 6 A) through 17 games put him on a 50-55 point pace, below the norms we've come to expect from his steady production in Dallas. A pair of assists with a minus-3 rating over the last seven games has driving force in his disappointing value to this point.

Sergei Bobrovsky, G, CLM - Let's pretend that Bob doesn't have a Vezina on his mantle. The Blue Jackets have been a disappointment this season and he's been one of the culprits. The organization appeared to be in a much better place with the move to the Eastern Conference and an improving nucleus of young talent, especially on the blue line. Lackluster play in the defensive zone has led to an increased shot volume fired his way, and his save percentage is already down 22 points from the elite .932 level he maintained a year ago.

Recommended Pickup

Ilya Bryzgalov, G, EDM - It's all speculation, but Devan Dubnyk has done nothing to secure his hold on the starting goaltender job for the Oilers thus far and ex-Flyer should have every opportunity to provide a much needed boost at the position. Still just 33 years old, the enigmatic Bryzgalov has been a workhorse before, making 65-plus appearances in each of his final three seasons in Phoenix before his two-campaign debacle in Philadelphia. Motivation shouldn't be an issue, since he is playing on a one-year deal. As a result, Bryz could exceed expectations for his new club after posting excellent save percentages (.920 and .921) during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons in the desert.
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