They couldn’t get Ben Bishop.
So the Flyers settled on trading for Columbus goalie Steve Mason on Wednesday at the NHL trade deadline.
Not even an hour after Ottawa traded Bishop to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Flyers went out and got Mason in exchange for Michael Leighton and a 2015 third-round draft pick.
A goalie, you ask? Not a defenseman? Yep.
The only other move the club made Wednesday was claiming 32-year-old veteran forward Adam Hall off waivers from Tampa Bay (see story).
Mason carries a $2.9 million cap hit. He’ll be a backup to Ilya Bryzgalov right now but, what happens this summer when he’s up for renewal as a restricted free agent?
Don’t be surprised if the Flyers go after another goalie this summer as their new starter and amnesty Bryzgalov with Mason as the backup.
General manager Paul Holmgren was vague on Bryzgalov's role with the team in the future when asked if he saw Mason as simply a backup goalie.
“We see him as one of our two goalies,” Holmgren said. “Not only for the rest of this year, but moving forward. We’ll just leave it at that for now.”
It’s hard to imagine the Flyers will invest over $8.5 million into one position given Bryzgalov's cap hit is $5.66 million.
The Russian has been worn down this season without an adequate backup that coach Peter Laviolette feels can win on any given night after being a healthy scratch for games in succession.
Mason can certainly do that, but his numbers have been awful for three straight seasons.
“I’m really excited and going to a new organization with a fresh opportunity to play with some players I have a history with from World Juniors there. Just really looking forward to meeting the new guys and starting off fresh,” Mason said in an interview with TSN.
“I’m more than thrilled to have this new opportunity. With the way Sergei [Bobrovsky] has played, he’s taken the ball and really run with it.
“Every goaltender wants a fresh start and not be sitting on the bench. I’m going to a new organization to re-establish my career and really looking forward to that.”
Mason has been poor in Columbus, posting a 2.95 goals against average and .899 save percentage for the Blue Jackets in 13 games.
Ironically, the former Flyer Bobrovsky took his job.
Think about it. The Flyers trade their backup goalie to Columbus; he becomes a star; then the next season, the Flyers trade for the Blue Jackets' backup, who lost his job to the ex-Flyer backup.
This stuff can only happen in Flyerdom.
The 24-year-old is a former Calder Trophy winner as NHL Rookie of the Year (2008-09), when he won 33 games for Columbus with a 2.29 goals against average and .916 save percentage under ex-Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock.
“I put a lot of expectations on myself and when bad things happen and seem to snowball, I just couldn’t get out of it,” Mason said of his play since 2008-09. "You forget all the negative things and go into a new, positive situation and try to make the most of it.
“Going to Philadelphia and working with Bryzgalov, I’m looking forward to working with him and moving forward with things.”
Roughly an hour before the deadline, the Ottawa Senators dealt Bishop – a player the Flyers had definite interest in acquiring – to Tampa Bay for talented rookie Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick this summer.
Conacher immediately became the Sens’ No. 1 points guy with 24.
The Flyers were in it till the end on Bishop. One Ottawa source said Senators general manager Bryan Murray was asking for Sean Couturier.
Given they got Conacher from the Lightning, it would make sense that Ottawa wanted Couturier.
The Flyers felt that price was too high.
The team needs to restock its blue line after the season and find a young, franchise defenseman -- if it can. Those are the toughest deals in hockey, as the Flyers found out last summer with Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.
For now, the Flyers are holding onto the very few valuable chips they have until the summer when they reshape the club.