Have you ever watched that episode of Spongebob Squarepants where he meets the fish that was born with paper skin and glass bones? Of course you have. So now you will understand when I compare that fish to Michael Neuvirth. Yes, the same Michael Neuvirth that the Flyers’ GM decided to extend this part March. Neuvirth inked a two year extension worth about two and a half million a year while Steve Mason, the more consistent and healthy of the two, signed a two year deal as well with the Winnipeg Jets, making almost double what Neuvy is making.
Now I know not all of you are going to agree with me here, and that’s fine! Hear me out, Hextall made the wrong decision in net when he extended Neuvirth. I’m not saying Mason should have been the one to resign, nor am I saying that they shouldn’t have tried to keep Neuvirth in some capacity. The deal he signed was a vote of confidence from Ron Hextall. He must have seen something in Neuvy that we didn’t, and he was confident that he could perform in net for the Flyers this and next year.
Lo and behold, we have another case of management putting faith into someone who doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
Since Michael Neuvirth signed with the Flyers on that fateful July night, according to Fox Sports, he has been injured eleven times. Less than three season, and he has been injured eleven times. Nine day-to-day instances, and two stints on the IR, including the most recent stint. That’s an absolutely ridiculous amount of injuries in such a small amount of time.
Yes, Neuvirth really is getting paid like a backup. His cap hit isn’t really too bad considering what other backups are making around the league, but you’re backup shouldn’t be on the shelf more than your starter, let alone as frequently as he has been in his stint with the Flyers. In his first year with Philadelphia, he started 29 games. He had one stint on the IR that year, and a few day to day nagging injuries. In his second year, with the club, he started 24 games and had a few more of those nagging injuries. This year, he has started eight games.
Let’s get this out of the way. What he did in relief of Steve Mason in his first season as a Flyer was incredible. He played out of this world when called upon that year. Last year, not so much. He was depended on a little more last year, and somewhat folded under that pressure. This year isn’t much different. Brian Elliott has proven that the net in Philadelphia belongs to him, and Neuvirth has had nothing to say about it according to his play.
In a league, and world, that is all about the “what have you done for us lately” mentality, Neuvirth doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Pun may have been intended there depending on what his latest injury is. With that being said, is it worth looking into other options right now if you are the Philadelphia Flyers? I would think so.
When you look at the plethora of goalies the Flyers have between the AHL and junior leagues, they have a ridiculous amount of them, and they’re all pretty damn good! Let’s start with the obvious, Carter Hart is a human wall, and I’m not kidding. The kid has five shutouts in his last eleven games. Who else can say that they have done that? Right. Then you have Felix Sandstrom who many believe could be the Flyers starting goalie in two years when Elliott may or may not still be with us. But wait, there’s more! You still have Alex Lyon who is backing up Elliott right now, and Anthony Stolarz, who is pulling a Neuvy and sitting on the shelf waiting to get healthy again. You have limited options right now, but options none the less. Tokarski is a little streaky, but started the season out well and has a shutout about a week ago on his resume, so he can fill in for Lyon while he stays up with the Flyers, and they can always pursue a free agent or backup goalie and not have to pony up much to get one.
The likely scenario that we may see play out here is Hextall looking to trade Neuvirth for a late round pick, maybe even a backup for a backup trade. It might make more sense to swap backups with another team, that way you kill two birds with one stone, or get two birds stoned at once, however you want to put it. Either way you put it, look for Neuvy to be on the move-y?
With Hextall’s trading prowess, and other teams likely needing to overpay for a backup goaltender coming up here, expect Hextall to make a splash and potentially acquire more than what was earlier discussed here for Michael Neuvirth. Brass seems to be fed up with the injury history that Neuvirth brings with him, but other teams may see that as an opportunity to scoop him up for less than what they could have at the deadline or potentially in free agency. He isn’t going to command a ridiculous price no matter what market he hits, but he will command something in return, and Hextall always seems to make sure they get what they want out of a trade.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports