Flyers on penalty kill and Mason
Steve Mason has allowed more than three goals just once since joining the Flyers last season. (AP)
DALLAS -- Which is more likely: Steve Mason gets a contract offer from the Flyers in January or Steve Mason gets a look from Team Canada for the Sochi Olympics?
Right now, it would appear to be the former.
General manager Paul Holmgren wants to get a deal done. Under the one-year contract Mason signed last summer, he can’t accept an extension until Jan. 1 because of the CBA rules.
“Don’t want to get into that at this time,” Holmgren said this week when we asked him about opening talks with Mason’s agent, Anton Thun, next month.
This much is clear: Mason is going to get rewarded for his outstanding play. He is unequivocally, the Flyers’ MVP this season.
Forget about Saturday’s blowout loss in Dallas. That was an aberration and not a reflection on him.
Thun met with Mason this week when the Flyers were in Detroit.
“Steve made it clear he wants to stay in Philadelphia,” Thun said. “I’ve seen him play. He let in three goals in Detroit, but he shut things down when he needed to. He gave Philly an opportunity to win and that is what your goalie is supposed to do.”
That is precisely what every good goalie should do and it’s exactly what Mason has done since coming to the Flyers from Columbus for Michael Leighton last April.
Mason is earning $1.5 million now. He figures to hit no less than $4 million because any long-term deal he signs will require him to forfeit unrestricted free agency which would occur after next season.
“He’s under contract and the Flyers have the right to qualify him come end of June,” Thun said. “If they qualify him, he has one year before unrestricted free agency. We could go to arbitration.
“Assuming he continues to play well an arbitrator could award him a pretty big number compared to where he is right now.”
Thun doesn’t expect that to happen. Now does he expect his client will become a UFA a year from July?
At the same time, given how the Flyers torched themselves with the absurd nine-year, $51 million contract, rest assured, Thun knows the term here will be about half of what Bryz had.
Thun equates his client to Montreal’s Carey Price, who also happens to be in the Team Canada Olympic picture.
“I think Price is a very good comparable,” Thun said.
Mason won’t get a six-year, $39 million offer like Price, but he is pretty much assured of making at least $4 million a season.
Their numbers are close: Price has a 2.00 goals-against average with a .937 save percentage; Mason has a 2.14 GAA and .932 save percentage.
The Flyers signed Mason for less than his previous deal ($3.1 million) in Columbus because he was on a down cycle with a bad club. Mason needed a fresh start and the Flyers offered him that.
Since arriving, Mason’s numbers don’t appear to be a mirage. They’re real.
“He hasn’t changed as an athlete,” Thun said. “The change is within himself. He believes in himself again and he has a goaltending coach [Jeff Reese, a former Thun client], who believes in him. He plays with confidence now.”
And while Mason’s reward may not be a trip to Sochi, it will be a contract he can live with in Philadelphia.