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Tuesday's Fantasy Hockey News

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Bryzgalov debacle edition.

Christian Petersen

So yesterday was a weird one. I woke up to find I had won the free agent auction for Ilya Bryzgalov in the FHS Ultimate Dynasty League. I say "won" with some hesitation now though. As it turns out, I was the only bid at all. More on that later.

I drafted Bryzgalov in the inaugural UDL draft a couple of summers ago. I had 16th pick of 20 teams, and by the time my second round pick came around, Quick, Rask, Schneider, Rinne, Fleury and Price were all off the table. Huge early goalie run.

What should I have done with my second round pick? Looking back, one of two things:

1) Draft Kari Lehtonen! I am a huge Lehtonen advocate. Always have been, even back in his Thrasher days. He is an elite talent, albeit injury-prone, but at this point in his career, Lehtonen STILL hasn't played for an above-average team. Where is he this year? 7-3-3, 2.18, .928. That sounds about right when he has a half decent team in front of him. He is that good.

2) Wait it out before jumping at a goalie. In a 20 team league, very few teams are going to have a good tandem anyway, and in the last few years there have been lots of goalie surprises. So take some chances later on instead of concentrating on landing a proven top 10-ish goalie. Path of least resistance. Always nice.

What did I do instead? I drafted the greatest cosmonaut ever to tend goal in the NHL. It was dumb, and I suffered mightily for it (statistically and emotionally). MasterOfPuppets, especially, bullied me. It wasn't like regular bullying though, as I knew I deserved it. Longest 48-game season ever.

Thing is, it gets worse. I had that fucker (Bryz, not MoP) signed through 2015-16. At 7.7M on a payroll of 72M (23 man roster). Simply. Horrible.

What ultimately saved me was the NHL's own ineptitude, namely Bryzgalov's amnesty buyout. See, the UDL was launched before the NHL lockout, and we had no provisions in the rules for a player in Bryz' unique kind of limbo. Eventually, it was agreed that I could buy out Bryz for 1.25M / yr for the remaining three seasons of his deal. The buyout option was available to me until or unless Bryzgalov signed back into the NHL.

But I did not buy him out at that point. Not yet. Losing Bryz would have left me with only Devan Dubnyk as a goalie (this warrants more justified bullying). And at that point, Bryz was still expected to sign somewhere, so why not wait and see before jumping on the buyout? I was also feeling a bit stubborn as I felt I should have been able to drop Bryz without penalty, but that's another story. Also, I had a half-baked plan in mind...

One of the many cool features of the UDL is the inflated salary cap over the summer. Like the NHL, we are given a cap overage (in our case 10%) to work with during the summer. This encourages active trading after our UFA auction, as many teams end up over actual cap and have to trade for space.

Entering the UFA auction, I still owned Bryzgalov, and of all the UFA options there were really only four attractive goalies in my opinion. In order: Corey Crawford, Craig Anderson, Jonathan Bernier and Evgeni Nabokov. I was right up against the cap during the season, but with the 10% overage I had about 7M to play with during the auction.

I knew in advance I wouldn't be able to afford the marquee guys, Crawford and Anderson. I was right - they went for around 9M each. But as luck might have it, the first player nominated was Bernier. I had a max of 6.5M in mind but won him at 5.5M.

So at this point, we're only one player into the auction, and I now own Bernier at 5.5M plus Bryz at 7.7M and I'm 5M over actual cap. If Bryzgalov had signed at that moment with an NHL team, I would have been stuck with his contract and way over cap. So as much as I didn't like the idea of buying out a player orphaned by his NHL team because of contract size, not ability, I bought Bryz out on the spot. Jumped from the draft room over to our Fantrax league and dropped that bastard like a bad habit.

To this day, I still enjoy the idea of the rest if the GMs in the league getting the Bryzgalov drop email alert only seconds after I acquired Bernier in our auction. Of course, they were probably all way too busy with the auction to notice, but whatever, it was still a smooth move.

So after a whole lot of stupid moves and a dispute over what should be done with Bryz, I was finally off the hook. And if you combine his 1.25M buyout and Bernier's 5.5M salary, I'm still saving a million bucks over what I was paying Bryz initially.

Fast-forward to Bryz signing with the Oilers this past weekend. This was horribly ironic for me of course, because this wasn't just Bryzgalov coming back - this was Bryzgalov coming to Edmonton to steal starts from my boy Dubnyk. In order for me to even feel comfortable making our weekly three-start minimum moving forward, I had no choice but to try and get Bryz back.

So, on Sunday evening, I took $56 of my remaining $62 FA Auction bucks and threw the huge bid down on Bryz. I thought this was a no-brainer, as our rules stated that all FA pickups will be on a 1M salary. A nice price, even for a flaky goalie on a shitty team, especially since I owned Dubnyk and would be the GM most negatively impacted by Bryz' signing.

But as it turned out, I was wrong again. Yes, a recurring theme here. Another section of the rules clarifies that, if a player has a 3M+ contract before being bought out, that contract will follow him. So imagine my horror when I realized that, yes, I had re-acquired Bryzgalov, but at the same old albatross of a 7.7M salary he had before. I was right back in the same situation as before - way over cap, stuck with Bryz, screwed!

Fortunately, because the rules were a bit ambiguous (and in thinking about it later, since the acquisition put me over the cap it should have been ruled illegal regardless), the transaction was reversed, and once again, I was free of Bryz.

What's the moral of this ridiculous tale? I have no idea really.

- Don't draft Bryzgalov?
- If you do, don't pay him 7.7M?
- If that advice fails and you end up with him rostered and overpaid, take any opportunity to get rid of him.
- If you do get rid of him, DO NOT go back and try and re-acquire at the same salary.
- Most importantly: read the rules, fuckwit.

Yesterday, Steven Stamkos was carried off the ice on a stretcher after shattering his right tibia on a goalpost. He tried to get up - twice - and when he couldn't, he lay face down, pounding the ice with his fist. That wasn't from the pain, folks, that was from realizing that history was slipping away from him. Goal scoring lead, points lead, Sochi, this year's record books, all gone.

Yesterday was also Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the USA. Here in Canada, news reports mentioned that turnout was down at most local memorials, that the last World War I veteran died a few years ago and that World War II vets are becoming harder to find these days too. This is too bad, and we should all think about stepping it up next year if not already involved.

Yesterday, there were tens of thousands of people searching for dead relatives in the Philippines, or not searching for them because there is no way to get close to the chaos. No roads, no bridges, no phones. No family at all for many. Donations to the Philippine Red Cross can be made here.

It's days like these that make one realize just how trivial our pursuits really are, and just how goddamn privileged we are when Steven Stamkos' tibia and Ilya Bryzgalov's contract are the only things bringing us down.

If you want a breakdown of the fantasy impact of Stamkos' injury, Dobber posted a really good one yesterday

Box score from Boston's 3-0 win over Tampa is here.

I'll have an injury post up in a bit. Take care and spread some love around your world.