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October 31, 2014

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Veteran goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s quest to return to NHL starts with Las Vegas Wranglers

The goalie agrees to a tryout agreement with the ECHL squad, giving him a spot in their training camp

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Philadelphia Flyers’ Ilya Bryzgalov in action during an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Philadelphia.

Ilya Bryzgalov, who played 40 games last season with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, signed a tryout agreement today with the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL.

The agreement allows Bryzgalov to participate in the club’s training camp, according to a statement released by the Wranglers.

“Having a world-class player like Ilya in camp is a great opportunity for our organization and our players,” Wranglers coach and general manager Mike Madill said in a statement. “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. It will be an amazing experience for them.”

Bryzgalov, 33, made $5.667 million last season with the Flyers, but the team used its amnesty buyout to shed his contract. He wasn’t able to find a home in the NHL, or the Triple-A AHL, but was able to earn a tryout with Las Vegas.

Bryzgalov declined interview requests with Las Vegas media, but in the statement answered those critical of his fall to the ECHL — hockey’s Double-A, two steps below the NHL.

“To be clear, I intend to return to the NHL, and to be ready for game action when an NHL opportunity opens up. 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 said in the statement.

Bryzgalov was the 44th overall selection in the 2000 NHL Draft by Anaheim, where he won a Stanley Cup as a backup goalie in 2007. He’s a former all-star with 429 career NHL games.

It’s not certain what Bryzgalov’s salary will be Las Vegas or his chances of making the team. But, at least judging by his statement, he plans to return to the NHL — and fast.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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