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Sleek's Advice Column

I don’t like to play know-it-all, but lately I’ve been getting some emails from readers looking for advice. Who knows? Maybe this stuff applies to you also.


What am I supposed to be doing with Giguere and Bryzgalov? And what of Vishnevski?

Brian Burke
(note: Giguere has one year left on a $3.99 M contract, Vishnevski has been awarded a one-year $1.55 M deal through arbitration, and Bryzgalov remains an unsigned RFA.)

Well, Mr. Burke, here’s my advice. Ilya may have spoken out of turn when he told a Russian newspaper that Giguere was unwanted, but I don’t think there was a lot of animosity in saying that. This is the same guy who talks philosophers and global awareness just before a playoff game, or grew a playoff beard because he didn’t like shaving.

Bottom line: the key decision that you need to make is which goaltender will be #1, and trade away the backup. However, I think that in order to make the right decision and to get the most out of a trade, you should be prepared to (over)pay both goaltenders to start the season.

Why do I say that?
  • I don’t think it’s fair to make a goalie assessment before you see each one play behind Chris Pronger for a few games. Pronger’s so game-changing that he nearly made a hero out of Jussi Markannen, and certainly helped feed Dwayne Roloson’s kids.
  • The market for goaltenders is extremely dry (see: Manny Legace, the Ted Nolan of goalies). All teams have a theoretical number one at this point. Until some injuries or bad performances rear their ugly head, most teams won’t need a multimillion dollar spectator.
  • I think the team that gives up the most for one of our goalies is (a) a ‘bubble’ team that feels it is a goaltender away from making the playoffs, or (b) a top team that feels it is a goaltender away from being a champion. It’s really difficult to make these kind of assessments now, so until teams start tanking or underperforming, the ideal trading partner hasn’t emerged.
Trust me. There will be a market for a ‘3-consecutive-playoff-shutout’ goaltender this season; it just may not happen until mid-December or so. Until then, yeah, you have a lot of salary on your bench, but you can get a better sense about which goalie you’d want to stick with.

Of course, Bryzgalov still remains an unsigned Duck, and there are rumors that he may join Duck prospects Zenon Konopka and possibly Maxim Kondratiev on a Togliatta Lada team in Russia. Should that happen, then Giguere becomes the uncontested #1 and the backup duties should probably fall to Michael Leighton. Probably this would mean neither goalie gets traded, and Burke gets to play money games again next summer.

Now Vishnevski on the other hand, I think if the intention is to trade him, he is an immediately movable asset. There are enough questionable defensemen in the league to ensure that. My advice, though, would be to come to your senses and keep Vish in Anaheim. Fan favoritism alone should make the $1.55 M workable.

Plus, then I won’t have to turn my Vishnevski jersey into a chair.

[Edit: My hero Tom Benjamin is taking Burke to task on Vish-dog also.]