This post is part of Flyers Day on PHT…
Steve Mason made 53 starts last season and went 23-19-10 with a .918 save percentage.
Michal Neuvirth started 29 times and finished 18-8-4 with a .924 save percentage.
Combined, they gave the Flyers one of the best goalie tandems in the entire league, a major factor in the team’s return to the playoffs.
And now, in an interesting twist, each goalie will head into 2016-17 in the final year of his contract, with the ability to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. They are both the same age, 28 years old. Mason’s cap hit is $4.1 million; Neuvirth’s is $1.625 million.
It’s worth noting that the Flyers also have some goaltending prospects, including recently signed Alex Lyon, as well as 2012 second-round draft pick Anthony Stolarz, who’s already spent a couple of seasons in the AHL.
Then there’s the trade market to consider. With the expansion draft looming, there could be some accomplished netminders come available. Ben Bishop is one big name that’s already out there. Marc-Andre Fleury is another potential trade candidate, and could you imagine him coming to Philadelphia? (Yeah, we couldn’t either, but that would be amazing.)
So, a big decision is on the horizon for GM Ron Hextall. Granted, he doesn’t have to do anything right now, and it looks like the Flyers will head into the season with Mason and Neuvirth competing for the starting job.
“I don’t believe that’s a strength that you want to weaken,” Hextall said in April, per philly.com.
It’s possible that whoever plays best — Mason or Neuvirth — receives an extension and the other doesn’t. Though re-signing both of them isn’t entirely out of question, that option would take up quite a bit of cap space, and one or both goalies might balk at that arrangement anyway. If one of Lyon or Stolarz is ready to backup in 2017-18, it would certainly be cheaper for the Flyers to go that route.
OK, time to vote:
(Click here if the poll doesn’t show up for you.)
PS — We didn’t provide a “let’s just wait and see how the season goes” option because that’s boring.