Ilya Bryzgalov joins the Edmonton Oilers at practice

Ilya Bryzgalov, Edmonton Oilers

Ilya Bryzgalov with the Russian Men’s Ice Hockey Team. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Nine days after signing a 1-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has finished his conditioning stint with the Oklahoma City Barons and joined the big club at practice.

The signing was an odd one, in some respects. Firstly, because of the way Bryz left the NHL, being bought-out by the Philadelphia Flyers due to a poor performance in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season. Secondly, because the Oilers traded away arguably their best defenceman (Ladislav Smid) to division rival (the Calgary Flames) in order to make room for the controversial Russian netminder despite the fact their chances of making the playoffs this season are slim to none because of their competitive disadvantage in the NHL’s most impressive division.

As for whether Bryzgalov will start tomorrow night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, head coach Dallas Eakins had this to say about his current goaltender Devan Dubnyk:

Bryzgalov has been a good NHL goalie before, just not recently. His time in Philly was marred with disappointment. To be fair to Bryz, Philly is, after all, a tough place to play net.

Just a thought – perhaps Bryzgalov was acquired not only to salvage some respectability for the franchise that has managed only 5 wins in 22 games, but also to help mentor Russian youngster Nail Yakupov. You know, teach him about outer space and what not.

Yakupov’s issues this season have been plentiful and well documented. A veteran from his native Russia might be helpful for the Oilers first overall pick in 2012.

Here he is – Brzygalov at Oilers practice: