Ilya Bryzgalov is gambling that a trip to the minors will get him back to the NHL.
The former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender is attending the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers’ training camp on a tryout. He hopes to parlay that into an NHL deal.
“To be clear, I intend to return to the NHL and to be ready for game action when an NHL opportunity opens up,” Bryzgalov said in a statement released by the Wranglers Thursday night. “I intend to work hard while I am here in Las Vegas, and to return the support I have received from my family, the many fans who have reached out to me with words of encouragement, and the Wranglers organization with actions, not words.
“This is a unique opportunity for me to be an example to my own children, to the young fans who have supported me, to my new teammates, and eventually to the NHL teammates who will come to rely on me again.”
Bryzgalov passed a physical Thursday before agreeing to the tryout.
Bryzgalov, 33, went 19-17-3 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .900 save percentage last season for Philadelphia. He appeared in 40-of-48 regular-season games.
The Flyers bought Bryzgalov out of the final seven years of his $51-million (U.S.), nine-year contract. He is receiving $23-million over the next 14 years.
Bryzgalov will not address reporters until the end of camp, according to the Wranglers. Las Vegas’ regular season starts Oct. 19.
“Operating independently of an NHL affiliation allows us the freedom to explore these types of opportunities, and we are thrilled to have Ilya here to work with us, and our goaltenders especially,” coach and general manager Mike Madill said in a statement. “It will be an amazing experience for them.”