Before 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?
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.
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?