Agent: Steve Mason will not return to Flyers, sign elsewhere

Updated: 6:53 p.m.

The Steve Mason era in Philadelphia is officially over.

Mason will not return to the Flyers next season, his agent, Anton Thun, confirmed Thursday to

The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported the news.

An unrestricted free agent, Mason has drawn interest from the Jets, according to the Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe. The interest from Winnipeg is "significant," via TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Free agents can officially sign Saturday. UFAs have been able to talk with teams since last Sunday, and per Wiebe, "multiple teams [are] interested" in Mason.

Mason, 29, departs the Flyers after four-plus seasons as the team's third-winningest goalie in franchise history with 104 wins and a .918 save percentage, second-best among goaltenders who started at least 50 games with the club.

Last season, he struggled to find consistency with an erratic first half but eventually settled down. He finished the season with a 26-21-8 record, 2.66 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. He had a .927 save percentage and three shutouts in his final 20 games.

Mason's first-half struggles coincided with platooning with Michal Neuvirth. It appeared the decision to start Neuvirth in the season opener had an impact on Mason's mentality.

After a strong preseason and training camp, Mason combined with Neuvirth to provide the Flyers with poor goaltending in the first few months of the season.

Mason began to separate himself statistically from Neuvirth in January, but coach Dave Hakstol continued to role with the platoon. Neuvirth started nine of the Flyers' 11 games in February. Then in March, the Flyers signed Neuvirth to a two-year contract extension — a sign the Flyers were ready to move on from Mason. Neuvirth finished the season with an NHL-worst .891 save percentage.

Injuries to Neuvirth opened the door for Mason to start 15 of the team's final 20 games.

While all signs pointed to Mason leaving, he was receptive to returning to the Flyers at the team's breakup day with one condition: no more platoon.

"Doesn't work," Mason said of platoons. "And it's shown throughout the league, it doesn't work. Tampa got rid of their situation. St. Louis got rid of their situation. It's got nothing to do with Neuvy and I as people. I've got no issues with Neuvy. It doesn't work for the goaltending position."

The Flyers will now turn to free agency, as expected, to replace Mason. Some potential options on the market include Jonathan Bernier, Brian Elliott and Antti Niemi.

It appears Elliott is the front-runner. According to FOX Sports Midwest's Andy Strickland, the "early talk on Brian Elliott is three years with Flyers at $2.75 [million] per."

"My comfort level is there are a number of goalies out there," Hextall said last Saturday. "So, there's not six No. 1 spots out there and just one goalie. I have comfort in that.
"We are still doing our due diligence and in the end, it's probably going to come down to a guy we take and term and money. I might like this guy, but is he asking unreal term? We'll go somewhere else. I keep telling you, [Steve Mason] is still in the mix."

Mason is no longer in the mix.