Alex Lyon

Flyers sign goalie Alex Lyon to a 2-year contract

Flyers sign goalie Alex Lyon to a 2-year contract

Alex Lyon and the Flyers didn't need an independent arbitrator after all.

The Flyers on Saturday morning agreed to a two-year contract with Lyon, who was one of 44 NHL players to file for player-elected salary arbitration by Thursday's 5 p.m. deadline.

Taylor Leier also filed for arbitration (see story). Arbitration hearings will be held in Toronto between July 20 and Aug. 4.

While Brayden Schenn was the last Flyer to elect for arbitration, the team hasn't had an actual hearing since John LeClair's in 2000. The Flyers and Schenn settled on a new deal the morning of their hearing.

Lyon proved himself capable of potentially handling a backup role in the NHL last season with the Flyers when he posted a 4-2-1 record with a 2.75 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 11 games — seven starts.

It was a small sample size — slightly bigger than Anthony Stolarz's in 2016-17 — but Lyon did not look out of place. The 25-year-old figures to join Carter Hart and potentially Stolarz in Lehigh Valley in 2018-19.

Stolarz is a restricted free agent and remains unsigned. The Flyers qualified the goalie and general manager Ron Hextall did say keeping three goalies in the AHL this season is an option.

An undrafted free-agent signing in April 2016, Lyon had an up-and-down second professional season with the Phantoms last year but was outstanding in the postseason.

In 11 playoff games, Lyon recorded a 1.98 goals-against average and .944 save percentage, including a 94-save effort in a five-overtime victory. The Phantoms lost to the eventual Calder Cup champions Toronto Marlies in the Eastern Conference Finals.

With Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth under contract for 2018-19, Lyon appears to have first dibs as an injury call-up while also mentoring Hart with the Phantoms. How Stolarz factors into the picture remains unseen.

But for now, the Flyers avoided a potentially sticky hearing with a goalie who very well may seem time in the NHL again in 2018-19.

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Flyers restricted free agents Taylor Leier, Alex Lyon file for salary arbitration

Flyers restricted free agents Taylor Leier, Alex Lyon file for salary arbitration

Taylor Leier and Alex Lyon were two of 44 NHL players to file for salary arbitration Thursday night, per a release by the NHLPA.

Leier and Lyon are two of the Flyers' seven restricted free agents this offseason. The others are Robert Hagg, Anthony Stolarz, Danick Martel, Tyrell Goulbourne and Reece Willcox.

The deadline for player-elected arbitration was 5 p.m. Eastern Time Thursday. The deadline for club-elected arbitration is 5 p.m. Eastern Time Friday.

By electing for arbitration, both players and the Flyers are set for hearings with an independent arbitrator to settle on a salary. General manager Ron Hextall and the representation for Leier and Lyon can continue to negotiate and possibly strike a deal before a hearing is had. Arbitration hearings are held from July 20 to Aug. 4 in Toronto.

The last Flyer to elect for arbitration was Brayden Schenn in the summer of 2016. The two parties avoided it by agreeing to a four-year deal the morning of the hearing. The Flyers also avoided a hearing with Michael Del Zotto in 2015.

Leier, a 24-year-old winger, played in 21 of the Flyers' first 23 games last season and seemed to have found his niche on the fourth line while compiling the team's fifth-most minutes on the penalty kill. However, he played just 18 games the rest of the season and finished with one goal, four assists and a minus-7 rating. The last game he appeared in was March 4 as he lost his role and was a healthy scratch all playoffs.

Last summer, Leier, a 2012 fourth-round pick, re-signed on a one-year deal and made $806,558 in 2017-18.

Lyon, a 25-year-old goalie, impressed when he was called upon by the Flyers for 11 games last season in which he went 4-2-1 with a 2.75 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. He was excellent during the AHL playoffs, putting up a 1.98 goals-against average and .944 save percentage over 11 games for the Phantoms, including a remarkable 94-save performance in a five-overtime victory.

The Yale product was signed by the Flyers as a college free agent in April 2016. Last summer, he also signed a one-year deal while making $874,125 in 2017-18.

Lyon will fight for a roster spot in a busy crowd of goalies, featuring Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth, Carter Hart and Stolarz. Earlier this week, Hextall said by AHL rules the Flyers can keep three netminders with Lehigh Valley, where things may be overly crowded with Lyon, Hart and Stolarz.

Neuvirth, on the final year of his deal, and Stolarz could be trade candidates the rest of this summer.

"I'd rather have too many goalies than too few," Hextall said Monday. "If something makes sense and we can make something happen, we'd at least look at it. We saw it last year. All of a sudden, a couple goalies go down and you're scrambling for goalies. If we start with five, we start with five. Not a perfect situation, but again, I’d rather start with five than with three."

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End to End: How should Flyers tackle their goalie situation?

End to End: How should Flyers tackle their goalie situation?

The topic: How should the Flyers tackle their goaltending situation?

John Boruk
I’ve been contemplating the goaltending quandary for the better half of the past month and how it might sort itself out. As we’ve discussed, there are six NHL/AHL caliber goaltenders at a table that seats just four.

For starters, we could have some clarity during the draft if general manager Ron Hextall makes a trade (or two) that would give the Flyers a draft pick, a prospect or a player that can help the team next season.

I expect Hextall to work the phones to find an interested team for Petr Mrazek, or inevitably he becomes a free agent on July 1.

Brian Elliott returns as the Flyers' No. 1 when 100 percent healthy.

Carter Hart is the future franchise netminder and he needs to play and play a lot, which is why you can pencil him in as the starter for Lehigh Valley to begin next season.

That leaves injury-plagued Michal Neuvirth, Anthony Stolarz (also returning from major knee surgery) and Alex Lyon. I just don’t see the organization parting ways with Stolarz (a 2012 second-round pick) until it knows with certainty what it has once he’s healthy.

I would take all five goaltenders into training camp come September and let the situation play itself out. There’s plenty of injury risk on this team so why deplete the position especially when you consider how last season unfolded.

Tom Dougherty
Guess what. As another summer approaches, we're left talking Flyers goaltending. Fun!

I don't know how the Flyers can go into next season trusting Neuvirth. He has another year left on his contract, but there are ways around that. Neuvirth is a talented goalie who can never stay healthy. He's unreliable and that's a problem.

The Flyers have a goalie numbers problem. Lyon and Stolarz are restricted free agents and Hart is turning pro. Unless Hart shocks all, he'll be with the Phantoms full-time.

If the Flyers' plan is to bring back both Elliott and Neuvirth, that leaves one spot open in Lehigh Valley and that spot belongs to Lyon. He earned another contract with his play down the stretch, in the AHL playoffs and his time with the Flyers last season.

It's hard to imagine a scenario in which Stolarz returns to the club. It's a shame because he lost his spot on the depth chart because of injury, but that's hockey. If Neuvirth comes back, it's safe to say one of the AHL goalies will see NHL time next season.

There's too much of an unknown with Stolarz's health to choose him over Lyon. Theoretically, both could come back. The Flyers own both of their rights. But I could see Hextall trading Stolarz to let him get a fresh start elsewhere.

If I was in charge, I would find a way to move on from Neuvirth and allow Lyon and Stolarz duke it out for the NHL backup job. The loser heads to Lehigh Valley to mentor Hart.

Jordan Hall
It's never a bad time to talk goalies in Philadelphia, right?

Currently, there's a boatload to break down.

I don't see a major problem heading into the season with Elliott and Neuvirth as your tandem again. If both are healthy — I understand that's a big if — they can be reliable and have shown that to the Flyers with stretches of play. Both goalies are on the final year of their contract, so you enter 2018-19 with those two as your guys and if they can't stay injury free, then the good thing is the organization has options.

Right now, it just feels like Stolarz is the odd man out. You can probably bet Hextall is working the phones a tad on Neuvirth, Stolarz and obviously Mrazek. A trade is more than possible, but Hextall won't decimate his depth just because the Flyers have a lot of players at one position.

Ultimately, I don't foresee any big surprises. Looks like Elliott-Neuvirth in Philly and Lyon-Hart waiting in the wings at Lehigh Valley.

More on Flyers' goalies

• Following 'gloomy' time, what's next for Elliott?

• Why Neuvirth's NHL career hinges on this offseason

Are Flyers next? How Hart won over his junior GM

• After incredible effort, Lyon solidifies case for contract