Flyers

Ron Hextall: Michal Neuvirth's deal 'doesn't suggest we won't sign' Steve Mason

Ron Hextall: Michal Neuvirth's deal 'doesn't suggest we won't sign' Steve Mason

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Steve Mason's future as a Flyer became rather bleak by the end of Wednesday's NHL trade deadline.

During a season in which the Flyers had to decide which, if either, of their two pending unrestricted free-agent goaltenders they would re-sign, the 28-year-old Mason seemed the logical favorite before the season began.

Except, Mason hasn't performed very well. Not that 28-year-old Michal Neuvirth has been that much better, either.

Yet, the oft-injured Neuvirth had the capacity to be a better salary cap fit in transitioning the Flyers to their future, younger, next goalie -- Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon or Carter Hart.

And that's what transpired as the Flyers re-signed Neuvirth to, according to a source, a cap-friendly two-year, $5 million deal on Wednesday morning (see story). That pretty much closes the picture for Mason, regardless of what general manager Ron Hextall said publicly afterward.

"We liked the term, and we liked the cap hit," Hextall said of Neuvirth's deal. "I did not want to go into July 1 with no goalie because that is a recipe for disaster. So we felt like this one was a reasonable deal, a reasonable term."

Now the Flyers have a goalie under contract for next season at a very low cost, one they can expose in the NHL expansion draft in June without having to expose Stolarz, which would have been their only other option.

That, too, crossed Hextall's mind.

"This gives us flexibility," Hextall said. "We had one choice before and now we have two. We have a goalie we feel very comfortable with. Neuvy has done a good job.

"Obviously,  the injuries, we talked about that. If it weren't for the injuries, we wouldn't be talking about $2.5 cap hit, probably. Again, for multiple reasons, I didn't want to go into July 1 needing two goalies and the expansion draft."

As for Mason …

"That doesn't suggest we won't sign Mase, but just that the timing," Hextall said. "I wanted to get something done before the deadline."

The fact the Flyers have not had any contract talks with Mason's camp speaks volumes as to the likelihood of him re-signing.

Oddly enough, Mason had a shutout against Colorado on Tuesday and will get the net against Florida on Thursday.

Neuvirth has been slightly more consistent this season -- save for injury -- than Mason, who played well during the 10-game win streak and then seemed gassed.

"Neuvy has played some pretty good hockey," Hextall said. "Last year, they both did a pretty good job of picking each other up.

"When you get two really good goalies, that is what you hope for and this year it is has been the opposite. Neither of them have been hot enough. In saying that, we need to help them out more."

The Flyers could still sign a goalie in free agency. As for who the younger goalie will be next season, Hextall didn't flat out commit to Stolarz. Or any of his prospects.

"I can't answer that question right now," he said. "We'll monitor how our kids do … I feel a lot better right now where we have one guy in the fold.

"We're in a lot better position than a day ago. I didn't like having two guys as UFAs. We like Neuvy's deal. It's a fair deal. And when he's playing hockey, he's pretty damn good."

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Today, we break down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. On Sunday, we’ll look at the reasons for concern.

Through 50 games, the Flyers have done two important things. They’ve played well within the division and have dominated at home. 

Those two trends bode well for after the All-Star break because divisional games become much bigger and confidence at home is paramount as the pressure builds.

The Flyers are 17-4-4 at home and 9-2-3 against Metropolitan foes. The marks are notable given the Flyers fell sorely short in those areas last season, when they finished 19-18-4 at home and 10-16-2 in divisional play.

Another positive is the Flyers are getting healthier after the break. Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) could be back Friday in the Flyers’ first game out of the bye week, while Carter Hart (abdominal strain) is expected to return not long after.

But what might be the Flyers’ most convincing piece of evidence for optimism is how they’ve performed against the NHL’s best teams. The Flyers have shown they can play with any club, which is huge for their own belief moving forward.

The Flyers are 11th in the NHL standings at 27-17-6. They've gone 9-5-3 against the top-10 teams and 5-1-1 vs. the top four.

Head coach Alain Vigneault has a history of taking teams to the playoffs, and doing so in Year 1 on the job. At his previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons produced playoff bids and at least one series victory.

Vigneault’s track record will be tested over the Flyers’ final 32 games.

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2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Travis Konecny finishes 7th in fastest skater; Mathew Barzal beats Connor McDavid

2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Travis Konecny finishes 7th in fastest skater; Mathew Barzal beats Connor McDavid

Travis Konecny went toe to toe with familiar faces in the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Friday night.

Among the eight-player field for the fastest skater event, four players were from the 2015 draft class.

Konecny went 24th overall to the Flyers and Mathew Barzal No. 16 to the Islanders, while Connor McDavid was selected No. 1 by the Oilers followed by Jack Eichel at No. 2 to the Sabres.

The first-time All-Star Konecny couldn't take down McDavid, but the competition's three-time reigning champ was dethroned by Barzal at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

Konecny had fun in the event and scored during the goalie competition.

Right at the start line, I could see my parents, brother and girlfriend, so that was pretty cool — they were right there," Konecny said Friday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "I was just having fun with them, they're enjoying it just as much as I was. We had a little moment after I finished my lap and I think I was near the bottom, they're laughing and I was laughing. It was over with and I could enjoy the rest of the night.

Barzal took the crown with a time of 13.175 seconds, just ahead of McDavid.

1. Mathew Barzal, Islanders — 13.175
2. Connor McDavid, Oilers — 13.215
3. Chris Kreider, Rangers — 13.509 
4. Jack Eichel, Sabres — 13.540
5. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche — 13.895
6. Anthony Duclair, Senators — 14.005
7. Travis Konecny, Flyers — 14.113
8. Quinn Hughes, Canucks — 14.263

Konecny will compete for the Metropolitan Division in the All-Star Game Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, which you can live stream right here.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's All-Star weekend:

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