May 6, 2014; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (30) makes a save during the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks in game three of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

What To Make Of: Ilya Bryzgalov

Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Ilya Bryzgalov and the Minnesota Wild are officially out of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in game 6 of their second round series. Despite being out of contention, this was a very good year for the Russian goaltender. After being bought out of his contract by the Philadelphia Flyers last June, it seemed as though Bryzgalov’s career was declining rapidly. But he has worked hard  to make it back into the NHL, paying his dues in the ECHL and AHL before joining the Edmonton Oilers in November. In Edmonton, Bryzgalov proved to the rest of the league that he was still a capable starting goalie, and that’s why Minnesota acquired him from the Oilers at the trade deadline in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

Bryzgalov was brought into Minnesota after the Wild lost goalies Nicklas Backstrom and Josh Harding to injuries. He played 12 games for the Wild in the regular season, going 7-3-2 in that span. During the first round of the playoffs, Wild head coach Mike Yeo couldn’t decide between Bryzgalov and Darcy Kuemper as his starting goalie, but after his strong play against the Colorado Avalanche, Yeo decided to go with Bryzgalov for the second round, during which he started all six games against the defending champion Blackhawks. He was able to bring the Wild further than they went last year, as the team was only one goal away from forcing a game 7.

In the past, Bryzgalov has had his share of run-ins with the media. It seems as though all of that is behind him, and now that he is playing well, the media has less to criticize him about, allowing him to focus on hockey and playing his game. Bryzgalov has had success in the past in Phoenix and Anaheim, winning the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. The one-year, $2 million deal Bryzgalov signed with the Oilers in November expires this offseason, and he looks to be near the top of  the list of available goaltenders to hit the market this free agency.

Should the Wild try to re-sign him, or should they stick to their own goalies once they are healthy? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

Tags: 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Chicago Blackhawks Ilya Bryzgalov Minnesota Wild

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