Could Flyers acquisition of Petr Mrazek could mirror a path previously walked by Steve Mason?

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Back in 2013, the Flyers made a move at the deadline to acquire a goalie. That goalie was Steve Mason. The Flyers sent a 3rd round pick and goalie Michael Leighton to Columbus for the RFA at years end Steve Mason.

Mason was brought in to compete with fellow goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov, who struggled with the pressure from the Philly market, was having a hard time in his 3rd season. A reason for the Flyers to acquire some competition for Bryzgalov.

After the trade, Mason played half the games over the final stretch of the season. It was like a try-out for next season for Mason. An audition if you look at it the right way.

Mason impressed enough during those games for the Flyers to sign him to a contract extension and use one of their no penalty buyouts on Bryzgalov. Mason went on to be the Flyers goalie for the next 4 years until he was replaced this season by Brian Elliott.

Fast forward to two days ago. The Flyers made a deal to acquire Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek. Mrazek, who seemed to be the answer in Detroit in 2015-2016, struggled last year and was put behind long time Red Wing Jimmy Howard once again.

Mrazek, a RFA at seasons end, is going to start the majority of the games over the final 20 games of the season. Again, an audition for next season if you look at it that way.

Why does that sound so familiar? Is Mrazek the next Mason? Two things stand out.

First, Steve Mason looked to be the answer in Columbus. Mason, who won the Calder Trophy his rookie season, struggled ever since that season. He was replaced by former Flyer, Sergei Bobrovsky, who Columbus acquired the year before.

Mrazek, was in the same situation in Detroit. Mrazek had an impressive 2015-2016 season and was seen as the future for Detroit. However, he struggled the next year and was put behind Jimmy Howard once again.

Second, Mason was a RFA and playing for a contract and a rightful spot on a team that actually wanted him.

Mrazek, also a RFA, is playing for a contract at year end too. However, if the Flyers want to keep him, they have to either move or buyout one of their goalies. The same situation the Flyers were in with Mason.

With all the same similarities, the Flyers acquiring another RFA in similar fashion to a RFA they acquired in 2013, you have to ask. Is Petr Mrazek the next Steve Mason?

Well, if you look at the deal it took to acquire Mrazek, it may tell you something.

The Flyers acquired Mrazek for 2 picks. A 2018 4th round pick that can become a 2nd with how successful the Flyers are over the rest of the season and a conditional 2019 3rd round pick if the Flyers resign Mrazek.

Uhm… Thats interesting. Why would Detroit ask for a pick if the Flyers were to resign Mrazek after they previously already stated they were not going to qualify him and get nothing for him after the season? Uhm…

This leads me to believe the Flyers are all for bringing back Mrazek next season. Which would mean, just like 2013, the Flyers would have to buyout a goalie in the offseason.

Which leads me to believe that Michal Neuvirth’s time as a Flyer is over. Neuvirth was resigned over Steve Mason because he was cheaper and seen as a better tandem option for another free agent goalie the Flyers brought in. That guy was Brian Elliott.

However, Neuvirth has been more of a headache than blessing for the Flyers. Neuvirth has now missed time on 3 different occasions. During the first 2 times, the Flyers had Brian Elliott to rely on. However, this time Elliott is not there for the Flyers to fall on. Elliott is also out injured, the reason Hextall had to move quickly to acquire a goalie.

Therefore, with everything looking oh so similar to 2013, will the Flyers take the same road with Mrazek as they did Steve Mason?

Well, it is something they will look at. However, it is harder than you think.

The first part is easy. The Flyers can easily buyout Michal Neuvirth and it will actually give them a little cap relief in the process. If the Flyers buyout Neuvirth, it will save the Flyers $1.5M in cap space. The cap hits for the buyout would be $1M next season, a savings of $1.5M, and $0.750M cap hit the following year.

That is just step one.

Step two is where it becomes more complicated. With Mrazek being a RFA and having a high price tag, $4M, the Flyers would have to convince him to take on a much lower price tag to resign him.

Since he is making $4m already, his qualifying offer must equal that. Therefore, Mrazek, being a RFA, qualifying offer would be $4m. Something I see the Flyers having an issue with, given the guy wasn’t even in their future plans until two days ago.

If Mrazek comes in and does what he was brought in to do, I can see the Flyers thinking long and hard about it. However, if he doesn’t, it was just a rental to get them through tough times.

So, it is very possible that the Flyers get rid of Michal Neuvirth and resign Petr Mrazek. If they do, it will be exactly what happened in 2013 when the Flyers acquired Steve Mason and bought out Ilya Bryzgalov the following offseason. Just under different circumstances.

 

Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

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