This is basically as sure as you can get without the team announcing it. TSN’s Bob McKenzie has the ear of pretty much every important Hockey person in the world. McKenzie also reported originally that it was 3 Years at $2.75 million per year which has since dropped to 2 Years.
Image via Derek Leung/Getty
This is fantastic news! Elliott will be a great stop gap between Neuvirth / Stolarz and the future of Hart / Sandstrom / Etc. It’s also a good indicator that Hextall was never really comfortable going forward with Michal Neuvirth as the starter. This is also great news because Neuvirth isn’t starting material.
Examining Elliott and Other Options
For the purposes of this analysis we’ll look at this past season’s work for Mason/Neuvirth along with Brian Elliott, Jonathan Bernier, Ryan Miller, and Chad Johnson (other free agent options).
TOI = Time on Ice in mins, GA60 = Goals Against per 60 mins at 5v5, GF60 = Goals for per 60 mins at 5v5
Firstly only Elliott, Miller and Mason handled anything close to a starters role last season. Bernier, Johnson and Neuvirth were clearly back-ups, and any combination of those 3 would be rolling with 2 back-up goalies. Not a great situation.
Elliott had the best Goals Against at Even Strength at 2.13, and Bernier was a close 2nd at 2.19. The big problem from the start with Bernier is the gigantic amount of support he received offensively with the Ducks. Ryan Miller had a hell of a time in Vancouver where he played a ton of decent minutes and had no support whatsoever. Mason looks very comparable to Miller just with a bit more offensive support. Johnson and Neuvirth are comparable to each other as well, but poor Michal had the least goal support it seems which may have lent itself to his poor performance.
Team Shot Suppression and Offensive Support
TOI = Time on Ice in mins, SA60 = Shots Against per 60 mins at 5v5, SF60 = Shots for per 60 mins at 5v5
Looking a little deeper into team support let’s take a look at shot faced. Again Ryan Miller stands out as getting shelled for 31.7 shots per 60 minutes at Even Strength. Vancouver were also the worst at generating offensive chances with 26.8 shots for per 60 minutes giving Miller poor support. Poor Miller. Mason and Johnson also had relatively poor team support in these regards.
Bernier, Elliott and especially Neuvirth all had an easier workload. Neuvirth had an average of 5+ less shots against and 4+ shots for than Miller at the opposite end of the spectrum. So the myth of Neuvirth not getting support seems busted. The Flyers may not have been scoring, but they were supporting Neuvirth in terms of chances. Neuvirth played the least, and had the best team support of any goalies in this analysis.
Rest and Opponents
TOI = Time on Ice in mins, RestRatio = Games Rested vs. Games Tired, OppRatio = Games vs Playoff Teams vs. Non Playoff Teams
Perhaps the most telling statistic when examining Mason and Neuvirth over the years and indeed last season is amount of rest. I’ve called ‘tired games’ any games played on back-to-back nights or games when there was a travel day in between. I then divided rested starts by total starts to get a sense of how the player was used.
Steve Mason had by far the least rest starting 34 games rested vs. 20 games tired. Elliott was somewhat comparable at 34 rested vs. 14 tired. Miller, Bernier and Johnson were all fairly close in terms of rest (within 5%), and Neuvirth was the most rested starting just 3 games tired vs. 21 rested.
Something interesting is that Mason and Elliott started the most against non-playoff teams. Miller had the toughest opponent schedule while Johnson and Neuvirth were a close second. So it seems like coaches were rolling Mason and Elliott without rest against the league’s worse teams. Neuvirth and Johnson were used against some tougher competition but had lots of rest. Ryan Miller.. well.. he just had a tough go didn’t he? While Bernier started against a good mix of playoff vs. non-playoff teams on lots of rest.
Image via @RyanMiller3039
Ryan Miller probably has more to give even at his age. He got absolutely shelled in Vancouver playing for a terrible Canucks team. Brian Elliott might be comparable to Steve Mason. They had similar rest and opponents faced, Elliott had better goals against, but also more support from his team. I would guess this will be pretty much a wash in terms of talent. The big selling point for Elliott is that it looks like he comes at $2.75m on limited term. Mason is probably looking for more like $4 million.
It’s a good thing the Bernier rumours to Philadelphia were untrue because he was sheltered playing for a good team in Anaheim. Also a good thing Hextall wasn’t serious about rolling Neuvirth (or someone like Johnson) as a starter because he’s just not good enough to handle a starter’s role.
Parting Thoughts on Mason
Mason’s days as a Flyer are over..
There was both a great animosity and a great love for Steve Mason during his time in Philadelphia. He arrived as damaged goods from a struggling Columbus franchise and turned his career around. He’s truly been a treasure, providing stability, and good goaltending at below market value.
The average fan may perceive his body of work as ‘shaky’ due to fixating on a bad goal or two. Painting him with statements like, “he never got them over the hump!” Analysts point to the fact that he had the 2nd best save percentage at 5v5 (prior to this season) to only Henrik Lundqvist over a number of seasons. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, he was a very good starting goaltender for some average to bad Flyers teams.
The days of Ilya Bryzgalov, Michael Leighton, Robert Esche, Antero Nittymaki, and Martin Biron seem a distant past. Mason eclipsed all of them during his tenure. You’ll be missed Mase.