The Philadelphia Flyers are going to be a busy team this summer, as they have multiple areas of need as they try and get back into the playoffs next year. Of course, the area that’s going to get the most attention is going to be their goaltending, and what they may do with a certain Russian space aficionado.
At some point this summer, Ilya Bryzgalov is going to be bought out. The Flyers need the cap space, and through two seasons, Bryzgalov hasn’t been the goaltender they were hoping for. Not that that’s entirely his fault, particularly this season with the defense that was playing in front of him.
Rather than go after a goaltender in the trade market, or try and sign someone like Mike Smith, after a potential Bryz buyout, it’s pretty clear which direction the Flyers could go in with their goaltending. It’s probably going to be the new guy on the block, Steve Mason.
Mason was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Michael Leighton and a third round pick. The Blue Jackets probably bring out some bitter emotions in Philly, as Sergei Bobrovsky has turned into a star with Columbus. The question is whether or not Mason can have a similar amount of success with his own change of scenery.
Steve Mason won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie back in the 2008-09 season. Since that year, which included 10 shutouts, Mason hasn’t returned to that same form. The 2011-12 season, his last full year in Columbus, featured a 3.39 GAA and a save percentage just under .900.
He had improved a bit this season, getting that GAA down to 2.95, but still finished with an .899 save percentage. He was terrific in his six starts with the Flyers towards the end of the year, with a 1.90 GAA and a .944 save percentage. Some outstanding stuff after the struggles of previous years.
If this is the Steve Mason that the Flyers are going to get, then the trade could pan out to be an absolute steal and help the Flyers as they try and get back to the postseason. A change of scenery can often be a source of success. But if Mason starts to struggle at any point, the Flyers better have a contingency plan in place given the market that they play in. Mason might not recover.