Logical destinations for Chris Mason


Mason1.jpgBefore I looked at Chris Mason’s numbers, the plan was to make a joke about how “the only thing that stood out about him was his astounding beard.” After looking over his career stats, though, I now realize that he could be an under-the-radar bargain.

Call me crazy, but Mason has the potential to be the next Craig Anderson. The parallel isn’t perfect, mind you, since Mason received his opportunity to start with the St. Louis Blues while Anderson was only a backup. Yet the most crucial factor – that he is flying under the radar but could end up being an outstanding value – remains the same. (They also both have experience backing up Tomas Vokoun.)

Just look at his career stats; aside from a really rough 2007-08 season (his final campaign with Nashville), Mason has been above average in net. His career save percentage is 91.4 percent, a mark that follows his two years with the Blues (91.3 last year, 91.6 in their 08-09 playoff run). His115-86-28 career record is impressive considering the fact that he played for solid-but-not-spectacular Blues and Predators teams.

Unlike Carey Price (an unproven-at-the-NHL-level player who now might cost Montreal a pretty penny), a Mason signing could be just as positive for his team as it will be for his own career.

After the jump, I’ll take a look at the best (not all, just the best) matches for Mason.

Note: I don’t think Mason’s prospects of landing a big payday are very good, so my main focus is finding matches that would either a) give him a lot of starts, b) allow him a chance to win a Cup or c) both.

San Jose Sharks

Now, this could be a great fit. San Jose could get a solid goalie while paying far less than they paid Evgeni Nabokov in 09-10. I mean, the Sharks aren’t ready to hand the reins to Thomas Greiss, are they?

Philadelphia Flyers

After all, the team is Nashville Predators East anyway, right? Mason-Boucher would be a nice 1a/1b duo that sports writers would love to underestimate. I don’t think Mason should cost much more than Michael Leighton, yet he has a much better track record.

Washington Capitals

I have some serious doubts that any goalie (except, perhaps, Dominik Hasek in his prime?) could look too great in the Caps’ net. That’s not meant as a knock on Washington, it’s just the simple truth that aggressiveness has its defensive drawbacks. Mason can allow Semyon Varlamov to continue his slow maturation into a possible goalie of the future while giving the team an affordable, steady veteran.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning are far from contenders, but new GM Steve Yzerman brings some needed credibility. It doesn’t hurt that the team features big names and a decent backup in Mike Smith (so Mason doesn’t need to go over 50-60 starts).

Other less promising options: Atlanta (bad team, decent job security), Columbus, Dallas (committed to Kari Lehtonen), Ottawa (Pascal Leclaire is pricey, though) and dare I say … Chicago?

PHT Morning Skate: Columnist argues McDavid’s already NHL’s most important player

Connor McDavid
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Although Connor McDavid‘s NHL career has only just gotten started, is he already the league’s most important player? (Sportsnet)

While we’re on the subject of McDavid, what should we expect from him for the remainder of his rookie campaign? (NHL Numbers)

Jack Jablonski was paralyzed on Dec. 30, 2011 at the age of 16 while playing high school hockey, but that hasn’t ended his pursuit of a career in hockey. He’s spent the last two years hosting a weekly hockey-talk radio program and has now joined the Los Angeles Kings as a communications intern. (Orange County Register)

Arizona State has earned its first NCAA victory. (Arizona Republic)

The 2015 Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs got their rings. (LA Kings Insider)

The Anaheim Ducks and the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave 13-year-old Kai Quinonez, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia four years ago, a tremendous experience. (Orange County Register)

Canucks spoil Ducks’ home opener via shootout

Adam Cracknell, Ryan Miller

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks have already found a groove just three games into the regular season. The Anaheim Ducks are still looking for a way to get their offense going.

Radim Vrbata and Alex Burrows scored in the shootout, and the Canucks spoiled Anaheim’s home opener with a 2-1 victory Monday night.

Miller made 28 saves and Adam Cracknell scored in regulation for Vancouver, which beat the Ducks for just the third time in their last 12 meetings.

Vancouver improved to 2-0 on the road in the young season, with Miller yielding just one goal in each game. That’s encouraging to the veteran, who played in only four games after Feb. 22 last season while dealing with a knee injury.

“I’m just trying to go out there and battle and compete,” said Miller, who stopped a third-period redirection by Carl Hagelin with his mask. “That was my mindset coming off an injury. That’s what it really comes down to, getting back the focus early on. I didn’t play hockey for a while. The technical stuff I worked on this summer and I pay attention to in practice.”

Even with twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin combining for just one shot, the Canucks won the new season’s first meeting between the Pacific Division’s top two teams last year. Anaheim won its third straight division title, while Vancouver finished a surprising second before losing in the opening round of the playoffs.

Sami Vatanen scored and Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots for the Ducks, who have scored just one goal while going winless in the first two games of a season that begins with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Anaheim was shut out in San Jose on Saturday in its opener before returning to Honda Center for its first real game on home ice since Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, when Chicago advanced to win the Stanley Cup.

Kevin Bieksa played nearly 24 1/2 minutes in his second game with the Ducks. Anaheim acquired the veteran defenseman from Vancouver last summer after he played 10 years with the Canucks, who drafted him in 2001. Bieksa was reunited with Ryan Kesler, the longtime Vancouver forward who moved to Anaheim before last season.

“We fought back a lot better than we did in San Jose,” Bieksa said. “So we need to keep building on this in the rest of this homestand here. If we do that, we’re going to be all right.”

After the Ducks failed to score on a power play during their first official taste of 3-on-3 overtime hockey, Vrbata and Burrows got stuttering, halting shots past Andersen, who stopped Burrows’ shot before watching it trickle under him.

“I’ve done that move a few times against a few goalies, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it against Freddie,” Burrows said. “So I tried it, and I’m lucky it went in tonight. It hit his stick and trickled in.”

Jakob Silfverberg scored in the shootout for the Ducks, who lost their home opener for just the second time in six seasons. Anaheim’s talented offensive players aren’t clicking so far, but nobody is panicking yet.

“I think we’re doing things the right way now,” Vatanen said. “We battled hard. We got some good chances. The season is long, so we’re going the right way.”

Both teams opened at a furious pace, with end-to-end chances throughout. After a scoreless first period, Vatanen got the Ducks’ first goal of the season when his long, low shot went through Mike Santorelli‘s screen.

Cracknell evened it later in the period with a sharp-angled shot that somehow deflected off Andersen’s shoulder or stick and landed behind the goalie. The journeyman got his first regular-season NHL goal since April 4, 2013, and just the seventh of his 85-game NHL career.

“Pretty fortunate goal on their part,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

NOTES: A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Honda Center to call for the suspension of Ducks D Clayton Stoner, who faces charges in Canada related to a 2013 grizzly bear hunt. … Cracknell hadn’t scored a goal in his last 49 regular-season games, although he got a postseason goal in 2014 for St. Louis.