Report: Flyers agree to 2-year deal with goalie Brian Elliott

Report: Flyers agree to 2-year deal with goalie Brian Elliott

Updated: 4:10 p.m.

It appears Ron Hextall has his goalie tandem.

A two-year deal with a $2.75 million AAV is in place between the Flyers and unrestricted free agent Brian Elliott, according to a report Friday by FOX Sports Midwest's Andy Strickland.

Teams are allowed to officially sign free agents starting at noon Saturday. Hextall could not comment on the report when speaking on a conference call Friday but said the team intends to sign a goalie Saturday.

Elliott, 32, has backed up and split time in net for much of his nine-year career. He's expected to do the same with Michal Neuvirth and the Flyers. Last season with the Flames, Elliott went 26-18-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 49 games (45 starts).

Elliott's best seasons came with the Blues from 2011-2016, a five-year stretch in which he went 104-46-16 with a 2.01 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and two All-Star bids. He also has a relatively clean health history and is a veteran of 41 playoff appearances.

The Flyers did not feel comfortable enough heading into the 2017-18 season with the oft-injured Neuvirth and inexperienced Anthony Stolarz as their goalie duo. Neuvirth has a track record of injuries, including two to his left knee over his pair of seasons with the Flyers, while 2016-17 ended with a scary fainting incident. Stolarz, a restricted free agent, is 23 years old and has played just seven NHL games. He also suffered a left knee injury in April that requires three to four months of recovery.

"Let's see if we can find an option that is better for us short term," Hextall said a day before the NHL draft. "There is always an option. Is [Stolarz] the best option? I don't know if you can say that."

The Flyers and unrestricted free agent Steve Mason decided to part ways, per the goalie's agent Thursday. Other options in net, via free agency, were Jonathan Bernier, Antti Niemi and Ryan Miller. Bernier will likely demand more money, while the aging Niemi is coming off a disastrous season and Miller, who turns 37 in July, looks to be headed out west.

With the goalie addition imminent and the re-signing of forward Jordan Weal Thursday, Hextall's work this offseason is nearly finished before free agency even kicks off. There had been rumblings of the Flyers' eyeing free-agent forward Justin Williams, but any thought of that or inking another forward now seems unlikely.

"I don't want to box out young players, so I don't want to bring in a 35-year-old veteran now and box out a young player," Hextall said. "We felt really strongly about Jordan Weal. If we didn't sign Jordan Weal, we might've looked for one more forward to try and upgrade our skill level. But now that we have Jordan in the fold, we're going to hold there. The only thing I anticipate tomorrow is signing a goalie and maybe some depth for down below."

Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

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Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz had his third career hat trick to help the St. Louis Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Schwartz has four goals and six assists this season and has at least one point in six of the Blues' first seven games. It was his 51st career multi-point game and fourth this season.

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, Kyle Brodziak also scored, and Jake Allen made 22 saves. The Blues snapped a two-game losing streak

Duncan Keith and Ryan Hartman had late goals for Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 28 saves (see full recap).

Maple Leafs ride big 1st period to win
TORONTO -- Curtis McElhinney made 29 saves in his season debut and the Toronto Maple Leafs scored four times in the first period in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Starting in place of Frederik Andersen, McElhinney stopped 14 shots in the third period to hold off the Red Wings.

Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander scored to help Toronto improve to an NHL-best 6-1-0. The Maple Leafs were coming off a 2-0 victory at Washington on Tuesday night.

Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Ericsson scored for the Red Wings, and Nick Jensen had three assists.

Jimmy Howard gave up three goals on four shots before getting yanked in favor of Petr Mrazek late in the first period (see full recap).

How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

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How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

For the first time in his nine-year career, Michal Neuvirth knows when he gets home at night after a game, there will be someone waiting for him with a smile.

Win or lose, it doesn’t matter to Neuvirth, or especially to his one-month-old daughter, Emily Gudasová Carolina.

“When you come home, there’s a baby waiting and it's such an amazing feeling that someone is waiting for you at home,” Neuvirth said after Tuesday's 5-1 win over Florida. “Last year, I was mostly here by myself, so I definitely like it better having a family with me now.”

Family now consists of his newborn daughter, his fiancee Karolína Gudasová and uncle Radko Gudas, Gudasová’s older brother and Neuvirth’s Flyers teammate.

To those of us on the outside, the responsibility of fatherhood seemingly has altered Neuvirth’s disposition. He smiles more, cracks a few jokes and elaborates just a little more with his answers to the media. Perhaps, he can tolerate us because there’s a deeper purpose and a sense of providing that comes with fatherhood.  

“It’s an amazing feeling being a dad,” Neuvirth said. “For me, I just have another motivation to play for my family now.”

Of course, it also helps I’ve yet to see Neuvirth yawn or show up to practice with bags under his eyes. He has escaped any late-night drama with an eight-day road trip to start the season, and for now, he apparently has a rare lifetime pass for any early morning feedings.  

“I have an amazing fiancee. She takes care of her (Emily) as much as she needs to,” Neuvirth said. “I usually put her to bed at 10-10:30. During the night, Karolina goes and feeds her in the living room, and I’m a deep sleeper, so she doesn’t wake me up.”

As Gudasová has kept an eye on the cradle, Neuvirth has secured the crease. He’s allowed three goals in his two starts this season with a .956 save percentage, which has initiated the debate for more playing time.

Interestingly, adapting to a new addition is something Neuvirth has also discussed with teammate and fellow netminder, Brian Elliott, who went through a similar set of circumstances with his son, Owen, last season in Calgary. Elliott called that first month with the Flames “a huge adjustment” and his October numbers reflected that.

Six games into the season, Neuvirth apparently has it all figured out. 

Of course, a good night’s sleep has a way of bringing clarity to the situation.