|GP||SV %||ES SV%||PK SV%||GSAA*|
|Shots Faced||Saves||Shutouts||W-L||Goals Against Average|
* Mason's GSAA, or "Goals Saved Above Average", is the difference between the number of goals that Mason gave up and the number of goals that a league-average goalie would have given up in the same number of shots. See here for further explanation and see here for a list of league leaders in the number in 2013-14.
A calming force
Our big fear with Steve Mason prior to this past season was that his 2013 year was a fluke. All you had to do was look at his career numbers with Columbus and worry that he was a below-average-to-awful NHL goalie, and that the seven impressive games he played with the Flyers were not indicative of what to expect going forward.
They were enough to earn him a contract for the 2013-14 season, and he more than lived up to the task. Here's a list of goaltenders who played more than 55 games this season, sorted by save percentage. Mason is not at the top list, or in the top tier of this list, but he's in some decent company.
|7||Jaroslav Halak||STL, WSH||52||110||1,385||1,275||0.921||2.25||5|
|10||Roberto Luongo||VAN, FLA||56||129||1,589||1,460||0.919||2.40||4|
|11||Ryan Miller||BUF, STL||59||154||1,885||1,731||0.918||2.64||1|
Not far behind guys like Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller and Roberto Luongo. I'll absolutely take that given how badly the Mason experiment could've gone -- frankly, how badly we should've expected the Mason experiment to go given his track record.
Beyond just the numbers, Mason's impact on the postseason was perhaps chance, but certainly felt real. This is no slight to Ray Emery, but there's a common belief that the Flyers could have and perhaps would have advanced out of the first round -- defeating the conference champion Rangers -- had Mason not been injured for the first two games of the playoffs. We will never know for sure, but it speaks to the confidence that everyday fans and the organization have with Mason in the crease. For an entire season, things felt calm with him in net, and that's a luxury we haven't had in this town in a very long time.
Bigger contract, bigger expectations?
Mason was quite good in 2013-14, and it earned him a three-year contract that begins in the upcoming season. He'll get a raise from the $1.5 million against the salary cap to $4.1 million per season for the next three years, and with that raise comes the expectation that he'll at least keep up that .915-.920 save percentage he had in 60 games this season.
Here's that same list of goaltenders we highlighted above, this time focusing on their contracts:
|Rk||Player||Team||GP||Save %||2014-15 Cap Hit||Expires|
|1||Tuukka Rask||BOS||58||0.930||$6.5 million||2020-21|
|2||Carey Price||MTL||59||0.927||$6.5 million||2017-18|
|3||Semyon Varlamov||COL||63||0.927||$5.9 million||2018-19|
|4||Ben Bishop||TBL||63||0.924||$2.3 million||2014-15|
|5||Sergei Bobrovsky||CBJ||58||0.923||$5.625 million||2014-15|
|6||Jonathan Bernier||TOR||55||0.922||$2.9 million||2014-15|
|7||Jaroslav Halak||STL, WSH||52||0.921||$4.5 million||2017-18|
|8||Henrik Lundqvist||NYR||63||0.920||$8.5 million||2020-21|
|9||Kari Lehtonen||DAL||65||0.919||$5.9 million||2017-18|
|10||Roberto Luongo||VAN, FLA||56||0.919||$5.3 million||2021-22|
|11||Ryan Miller||BUF, STL||59||0.918||??||??|
|12||Corey Crawford||CHI||59||0.917||$6 million||2019-20|
|13||Steve Mason||Flyers||61||0.917||$4.1 million||2016-17|
|14||Marc-Andre Fleury||PIT||64||0.915||$5 million||2014-15|
|15||Mike Smith||PHX||62||0.915||$5.66 million||2018-19|
|16||Antti Niemi||SJS||64||0.913||$3.8 million||2014-15|
|17||Craig Anderson||OTT||53||0.911||$3.18 million||2014-15|
|18||Jonas Hiller||ANA||50||0.911||$4.5 million||2013-14|
|19||Jimmy Howard||DET||51||0.910||$5.291 million||2018-19|
|20||Ondrej Pavelec||WPG||57||0.901||$3.9 million||2016-17|
Mason's new deal pretty much puts him in line with his counterparts, and could actually constitute savings for the Flyers if he's able to continue down this path, or perhaps even continue to improve. We all hope that Mason is simply a late-bloomer, that the trade to Philadelphia was a necessary one that has rejuvinated his career, and that his best hockey is ahead of him. If that's the case, we have reason to be excited, and the Flyers will have a good contract on their hands.
The question, though, is whether he's going to take a step back after what was a very strong 2013-14, and frankly none of us would be surprised if he did. One good season isn't enough to prove the doubters wrong, but it's definitely enough to make us hopeful.
Let's check back on our season preview for Steve Mason and see what we thought could happen with him this year.
The change of scenery and goalie competition actually does Mason well, the progress we saw at the end of last season marked real improvements after all, and he ends up bouncing back and posting a .915, right around where he was in his rookie year.
With the pressure back on, Mason wilts and does what he did for most of his time in Columbus: play very poorly. He struggles to stay above .900, torpedoing the Flyers' playoff hopes and forcing them to rely on Emery more than they'd like to.
You can't look at Steve Mason's 2013-14 season and say he didn't live up to expectations. Or maybe he even exceeded them. His .917 save percentage was a career-best, and he didn't have a single stretch during the season where we all stood up, shook our heads and went "WELP HERE WE GO AGAIN WITH THE GOALIES".
All in all, Mason was a calming force in the Flyers net in his 61 games, and he was more than a strong value on his $1.5 million contract for the year. That changes next year as he embarks on the first season of a three-year, $4.1 million contract, and while Mason has to keep his strong play going for another year or two to convince the doubters, the 2013-14 season was a big one in terms of our confidence in Mason's ability to be a solid starting goaltender for the Flyers now and down the line.
Feel free to vote in the poll below to grade Steve Mason's season on a scale from 1 to 10. Vote based on your expectations for him coming into the season -- i.e. 1 being "he was incredibly disappointing and I want him out now", 10 being "he was outstanding even beyond my craziest expectations".