With Ilya Bryzgalov signed to a 9 year deal, Sergei Bobrovsky becomes one of the more expensive backups in the NHL. At 23 years old come September, he is a developing goalie who is anticipated to only get better. Subsequently, a raise will come at the end of his contract in 2013. Considering Bryzgalov is only 30 now, he has at least 4, 5, maybe 6 good years left. Would you resign Bob at a raise from $1.75 million (with bonuses) just to be a backup?? There is no goaltending uncertainty here. Bryzgalov is the starter for the next few years.
And no, burying him in the minors is not an option unless you want to give him away to another team. He has played too many NHL games (including playoffs) and must clear waivers if he were sent to the minors, and he definitely would be snagged by someone.
This means there are few options for the Orange and Black. The Flyers could trade Bobrovsky for some value and save about 800-900k on a Boucher-like backup. Or they could wait until 2013 and trade his rights to another team for less. I see him as an expensive back up in the long run that could net some value. He's got great prospects but the Flyers have Bryzgalov as their starter for the long term. He will make a fine starter somewhere else. I think they gotta get their money's worth eventually. And next year JVR, Coburn, Carle, Voracek, and possibly Simmonds (depending on how long his contract ends up being) will all be in line for a raise.
If they did decide to resign him and give him a raise in 2013, it would compromise our offensive or defensive depth, just to resign a backup. That would be destructive to the Flyers' Stanley Cup efforts.
Yes, if Bryzgalov turns out a failure for whatever reason (hockey Gods forbid), and the Flyers did indeed move Bobrovsky, a cheaper backup with not as much talent would be all that is left. If he were given a raise in his next contract, it would be at the cost of offense or defense. This will be a tough decision for the front office over the next year or so.
It would be disappointing to see such young goaltending talent go, but financially the Flyers will have to give someone up down the line, and it could very well be him. How Holmgren deals with this eventual conflict of interest will be seen. Only one can hope it works out in the Flyers' way.