Over at our SB Nation sister site Silver Seven, which covers the Ottawa Senators, they walked through what an NHL expansion draft might look like next summer. And in their mock draft, they have the Flyers losing goaltender Steve Mason.
Here’s the full team they have going to Las Vegas in 2017-18:
And here’s Silver Seven’s not so confident reasoning for why the Flyers left Mason unprotected:
Went out on a limb here, and decided Steve Mason won’t be protected. Other than that, the decisions were pretty easy.
But even if they feel like they are out on a limb, let it be known that this is a completely plausible scenario in an expansion draft next summer. The rules — as we know them today, which are not official but are likely correct -- stipulate that teams can only protect one goaltender. That’s going to make things very complicated for a lot of teams, the Flyers included.
We walked through this yesterday, but when it comes to the Flyers goaltenders, it’s pretty clear that 2016-17 is an important year.
Instead, this will probably be a choice between Mason and Neuvirth. Mason has turned into an above-average goaltender since being traded to Philadelphia, posting elite statistics at even strength. Neuvirth, on the other hand, outplayed Mason in overall metrics last season, and was the far better goalie come playoff time. He's earned a legitimate chance to fight for the starting job in training camp come September.
The best guess is that Hextall will use this season to make a decision on his goaltending. The winner of the year-long competition will not only come away with a lucrative contract extension, but also the sole protection slot granted to the Flyers for goalies.
Both Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason will be unrestricted free agents next summer. The goaltender that wins the job this season is probably winning himself the Flyers starting goaltender job heading into the 2017-18. And the goalie who loses that battle will likely be left unprotected in an expansion draft.
That means that even if both goalies play well next season — a good problem to have, as we learned in these 2016 playoffs -- the Flyers have a very solid chance of losing a goalie next summer. At the same time, there’s no guarantee that the Vegas team takes a Flyers goaltender, because with only one goalie protected per team, there will be a lot of good goalies up for grabs.