Forward Wayne Simmonds believes the Philadelphia Flyers’ off-season goaltending shift from Ilya Bryzgalov to Ray Emery will provide welcome relief in the team’s dressing room when the 2013-14 season gets underway.
“I think (the change) will help guys out, nothing against Bryz or anything,” Simmonds, 24, told Brady and Lang in the Morning on Thursday. “When Mase (goaltender Steve Mason) came in last year, he played really strong for us. And you look at what Razor (Emery) did with Chicago, I think we got a great one-two tandem there. They can battle it out.”
Bryzgalov, who was bought by the Flyers in June, was set to earn an average of $5.66 million per season on a contract that would not expire until 2020. He is now an unrestricted free agent.
Upon Bryzgalov’s buyout, general manager Paul Holmgren described the goaltender’s original contract as “a costly mistake.”
The quirky Russian netminder struggled this year with a record of 19-17-3, a .900 save percentage and 2.79 goals-against average.
“I am grateful for teammates, to management and fans for the support I felt from so many of them through some very dark days and difficult situations,” Bryzgalov said in a statement upon his release. “I have always said that a heavy sword makes a very strong arm.”
Not only will Philly be armed with Emery (17-1-0), who shone in a backup role with the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, but a pair of former captains in defenceman Mark Streit (Islanders) and centre Vincent Lecavalier (Lightning).
Simmonds lauded Holmgren’s trio of recent acquisitions.
After fading out of the playoff picture in 2012-13, Simmonds says the underachieving Flyers are hungry to make an impact come fall.