If any Dallas Stars fans were secretly hoping for the Phoenix Coyotes to be relocated to Winnipeg, it was probably to force an eventual realignment that would move Dallas to the Central, but there was another reason to be callously unaffected by such a development:
Since the day the Ducks waived Bryzgalov and Phoenix picked him up, the Coyotes have given the Stars absolute fits.
Now it appears as though those days are over as news came down yesterday afternoon that the Coyotes realized they'd be unable to sign Bryzgalov in the off-season (sounds familiar?) and traded his rights to the Philadelphia Flyers, for whom he evidently wishes to play.
Whether he signs there eventually or not, it does seem likely that he will no longer be a part of the Pacific Division going forward and that can only be a good thing for Stars fans.
Consider that Ilya Bryzgalov's best career GAA against a Western Conference opponent not named the Coyotes (he played against them a handful of times while with Anaheim) was a 2.27 number against the Dallas Stars. His second best save percentage against a Western Conference team? Surprise! The Dallas Stars at .924.
He saved his best for the Stars and Dave Tippett saved him for the Stars routinely in the last two seasons, often playing Bryzgalov on the second night of back to back situations in Dallas, even when the first-half opponent was more formidable or more important to take the points from. Logic never seemed to play a part in it... The Stars were going to see Bryzgalov.
Jason Labarbera, who remains in Phoenix now to presumably assume starting duties has played Dallas well but not as well, and has not handled that kind of season long load before. We may be grasping at straws here, but this is a good thing for the division.
Oddly, it might not be the only affect on the Dallas Stars. A cursory glance at the Flyer payroll for next season reveals very little, if any wiggle room to sign Bryz, who reportedly wants in the neighborhood of $6-$8 million and a long term deal. Philadelphia badly wants to shore up a goaltending situation that's been in flux for seemingly decades. Will they move a significant piece to free up the cap space? Can the Stars benefit from that?
A bounty of picks and prospects would be needed to pry a salary dump move of say...Jeff Carter, but his long term contract and 40 goal capabilities is a tempting long term security blanket. Philadelphia will try other avenues before going that route, and Nieuwendyk does not like a.) 11 year deals, and b.) parting with draft picks, so this seems extraordinarily far fetched. It's fun to think about in June, though.