Philly hasn’t shut the door on bringing back goalie Steve Mason.
“Obviously, Steve Mason is still an option for us but we’re going to look around and see what else is out there,’’ Flyers GM Ron Hextall said Wednesday, in an interview with NHL Radio. “In the end we’ll decide what our best option is.”
Mason, an unrestricted free agent on July 1, just wrapped the last of a three-year, $12.3 million deal with a $4.1M average annual cap hit. He’s spent the last four-plus seasons with the Flyers but, over the last two, has been part of a platoon with Michal Neuvirth.
Mason played 58 games to Neuvirth’s 28 this year, but didn’t fare especially well, finishing with a .908 save percentage.
Yet in early March, the Flyers inked Neuvirth to a two-year, $5 million extension — even though Neuvirth also posted subpar numbers (.891 save percentage). Some saw this as a potential end to Mason’s time in Philadelphia, though Hextall was quick to point out the deal was more about logistics than anointing Neuvrith as “the guy.”
“We liked the term, and we liked the cap hit,” he said of Neuvirth’s deal, per CSN Philly. “I did not want to go into July 1 with no goalie because that is a recipe for disaster. So we felt like this one was a reasonable deal, a reasonable term.”
There are a variety of factors at play with the goalie situation moving forward.
There’s next month’s expansion draft, for starters. Philly needs to decide what goalie to protect, and what one to expose. And there was a curve thrown into that decision when 23-year-old Anthony Stolarz — the club’s second-round pick in 2012 — underwent surgery in late April to repair a torn MCL.
Philly.com reported Stolarz will undergo a lengthy rehab process, adding that could open the possibility of not protecting him and instead protecting Neuvirth.
Finally, there’s the added wrinkle of the current goalie market, and who might come available. Carolina made the first significant move by acquiring Scott Darling from Chicago, but still needs to sign him. A recent TSN report said teams were contacting the L.A. Kings about a potential Ben Bishop deal.
Another possibility, Marc-Andre Fleury, is enjoying a stellar playoff as Pittsburgh’s No. 1.