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Flyers overhaul goaltending on a budget

Aug 30, 2013, 12:12 PM EDT

Steve Mason Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal in the hopes that he’d end their goaltending issues. It didn’t work and after using a compliance buyout on that contract, the Flyers will enter the 2013-14 campaign with two promising and far cheaper options between the pipes.

Ray Emery and Steve Mason aren’t safe bets — they wouldn’t cost just over $3 million combined for next season if they were — but Philadelphia is hoping at least one of them works out. That’s not an unreasonable expectation.

Emery certainly seems worthy of a shot at the number one gig. The off-ice issues of his younger days appear to be a thing of a past. The 30-year-old has been through a lot, including avascular necrosis of the hip that threatened to end his career.

Instead he returned and has been working towards reasserting himself as a starting goaltender. He took a big step in that direction by posting a 1.94 GAA and .922 save percentage in 21 games with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Meanwhile, Mason is an enigma. He’s the man that led the Columbus Blue Jackets to their only playoff berth when he had a 2.29 GAA and .916 save percentage in 61 games as a rookie in 2008-09. That earned him the Calder Trophy, but his career has been a disaster ever since.

Brief moments of hope have been drowned out by rough stretches until the Blue Jackets finally dealt him to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2015 third-round pick and Michael Leighton. The change of scenery seemed to suit Mason, who recorded a 1.90 GAA and .944 save percentage in his final seven appearances of 2013.

The question now is if Mason has finally been able to put his years of struggles behind him or if his time with Philadelphia merely coincided with another brief hot streak that won’t be sustained.

Both goaltenders have a lot to prove and plenty of personal motivation given their one-year deals. Both of them have been starters in the past and this is their opportunity to prove they deserve that position going forward.

  1. President Charles Logan - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    I remember when Tomas Vokoun was available for cheap a few years back , why didnt Philly pounce on that then?

    • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 30, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      That would’ve been the smart move. Unfortunately they wanted a more long-term solution so they went with the younger Bryz. And it obviously blew up in their faces. A combo of Bobrovsky/Vokoun would’ve been much better until Bob was ready to become a full-time starter. Instead Bryz cost us money, wins, and a Vezina-caliber goaltender (altho we’ll see if he can do it again).

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:39 PM

        People are quick to forget that they weren’t high on Bob at the end of his rookie season. There weren’t too many complaints when he was moved to CBJ. That being said, it was a moved forced by Snider’s age/lack of patience.

    • mikedmcclain - Aug 30, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      my classmate’s mother makes $88 hourly on the internet. She has been fired from work for 5 months but last month her check was $14928 just working on the internet for a few hours. read the article…

  2. bhawksforever9 - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Sorry to see him leave Chicago, but he didnt play Tier One teams, he played all games against lower end clubs. Corey played the rest. Hasnt played more than 30 – 35 games in 7 years…..

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 30, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      He likely would have played more towards the end if he was not injured. Which brings up the question mark – his durability as a starter.

      Wish the Hawks still had him – I doubt Hawks will be taking the Jessings trophy this year. Wish Ray the best.

      Flyers were fortunate to get him – big potential upside for the price. Was surprized tyhat the Islanders did not speak up – Nabokov posting a .842 save% in the playoffs is not a good sign for the future, especially given his age (38).

  3. malvaren18 - Aug 30, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    How do. The flyers do it keep getting good goaltenders and on the other hand the Oilers keep getting useless goaltenders?

    • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 30, 2013 at 2:29 PM

      Dubynk isn’t as bad as a lot of ppl make him out to be. He posted a .920sv% I believe with a D that is arguably worse than the Flyers.

  4. eggserino - Aug 30, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Ray Emery is right out of the Hextall mold. Great competitor, hot head, and could potentially push for the number one job. For the Flyers’ sake, I hope that Steve Mason can find his form. Razor might push for that number one, but the Flyers’ best chance is with Mason playing to potential.

    Flyers management is taking the high-risk shot here, hoping that the reward is one of these guys finding their starter form.

    This, combined with signing an OLD Lacavalier, is going to make the season a long one unless Schenn and Couturier step up BIG. Vincent has lost more than a step. He’s a defensive liability at center.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:16 PM

      Part of the overall pattern with the Lightening – scored a lot a gave up more.

  5. flydommo - Aug 31, 2013 at 3:35 AM

    To me, this bargain goalie tandem looks about right. Mason is 25 and now gets a chance to get his career going again at a big club. Emery is a veteran goalie already familiar with the organization and has proven he can play the starting position at the NHL level, although health concerns remain. They will battle it out in the course of the season and that’s a big improvement over an over-priced starting goalie who failed to deliver when it mattered.

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