Photo via Nicolas Poulin (25 Stanley)
The newest Flyer backup goalie is former Capital-Sabre-Islander netminder, Michal Neuvirth. Having signed a contract on July 1, he’s the new backup to Steve Mason replacing Ray Emery/Rob Zepp who are both currently unsigned by NHL teams.
Neuvirth’s got a decent body of work in the NHL. He’s never truly been a number one, having never played more than 50 games in an NHL season. However, he is the perfect backup to Steve Mason.
Since January 2013, Neuvirth has a .915 SV% which is slightly above league average for the same time period.
So essentially, Neuvirth is a slightly above average goalie. Remember, this is above league average, not above-average starter nor above average backup. So, in reality, Neuvirth is the perfect option behind Steve Mason. Should Mason’s health continue to be a concern, Neuvirth is capable enough to provide a huge difference in results. In fact, let’s assume Steve Mason starts 52 games and Neuvirth gets 30 in 2015-16. Neuvirth posts another .915 season identical to an average of his last 3 seasons, he would be a huge improvement over the combined .893 of Ray Emery and Rob Zepp.
Assuming 30 shots a game are faced in these 30 games, this would mean that the Emery/Zepp duo would have allowed 96 goals. Neuvirth, in the same 900 shot random sample would likely allow only 77 goals. Given that 6 goals is worth a win in the standings, the swing from Emery-Zepp to Neuvirth is likely worth an extra 3 wins in the standings. So, right off the bat, the Flyers have improved themselves by 3 wins in the 30 games started by the backup goalie.
Not only that, but there’s the side effect of having a backup goalie who’s actually a capable NHL netminder who can keep Mason fresh all season, being able to keep Mason fresh will mean the Flyers greatest strength of this past season, goaltending, might actually be their strongest position in the upcoming season, if not, it’s surely the second or third strongest with Center (Giroux-Couturier-B Schenn-Laughton) and/or Right Wing (Voracek-Simmonds-Read-VandeVelde) which is a pretty solid position to be in.