[Editor's Note: The Flyers announced today that they have signed Steve Mason to a 3 year, $12.3 million contract extension. According to reports, the deal includes a no-movement clause. Mason will be a unrestricted free agent when the deal expires in the summer of 2017.]
Steve Mason has had his ups and downs this season already. Every player does though, especially goaltenders. The goalie position has so many factors that lead to success or failure. Some of which unnecessarily make them the hero or the goat in any given game. Mason however has played rather exceptional all year. The team in front of him I still feel is a work in progress and every game I am working on finding some consistent identity from them as a whole. Team defense is a bit of a mess and it’s one area all of us know needs the most work. I feel the Flyers will be searching for some help on the wing and defense in the next few weeks leading to the trade deadline. On defense the Flyers just don’t have the horses to run Coach Berube’s system. There are far too many times that the lack of any speed on defense has either caused a turnover, left them out of position, or had them forced into taking a penalty. That happens darn near every game. Until moves are made this is about as good as it is going to get though. That leads me back to what has made Steve Mason so special this year.
Before the season started I felt the Flyers front office was going to look into acquiring a goaltender that would push Mason for the starting position not only this season but in the future as well. That is why I thought the Flyers would take a shot at the then Boston goalie Anton Khudobin . He was a free agent and was almost certain to look at a team that would give him a chance to start. He landed in Carolina and the Flyers went on to sign Ray Emery. Let me say that I am a fan of Ray Emery and I am glad he is on this team (hope he resigns again next season), but considering his age and wear and tear; he is not really going to push Steve Mason for too many starts into future seasons. Anthony Stolarz is a goalie in the Flyers system that they feel could be the next in line. Problem is he is about 2 years or more away from making any kind of impact on the big club so the front office had to find someone that could at least be a stop gap. With signing Ray Emery instead of say, Anton Khudobin, the front office basically told Steve Mason that we have trust in that you will take this opportunity and run with it.
Now he has had his bad games, but I can’t tell you the last time that any Flyers fan can say that goaltending is the least of their worries. I think most of us fans have put our trust in Steve Mason. He has earned it.
Oh…about the defense though???