Speculation is already running rampant that the trade deadline deal Wednesday bringing the Flyers a much-needed backup goalie in 24-year-old former Rookie of the Year, Steve Mason, might eventually lead to the departure of starter Ilya Bryzgalov.
That’s the gut reaction to a move which GM Paul Holmgren concedes could have repercussions beyond this season, whether the Flyers make the playoffs or not. Hours before Wednesday night’s game with Montreal, Holmgren shipped little-used backup Michael Leighton, along with a 2015 third-round draft pick to Columbus for Mason, the 2009 Calder Trophy winner.
Later, the Flyers claimed 32-year-old veteran forward Adam Hall off waivers from Carolina, who should pick up some of penalty-killing slack left by Max Talbot’s likely season-ending broken leg. Hall and Mason couldn’t make the trip in time for puck drop against Montreal, so Phantom rookie Cal Heeter served as Bryzgalov’s backup.
But the question certain to be on most minds has to be what does the arrival of Mason mean longterm?
“Steve’s still a young goalie with a lot upside,’’ said Holmgren, who ironically sent the man who made Mason expendable, Sergei Bobrovsky, to the Blue Jackets this past summer. “We see him as one of our two goalies the rest of this year and moving forward. I’ll just leave it at that for now.’’
Left unsaid is what happens with Bryzgalov, who is in the second year of a nine-year, $61 million contract. Should the Flyers decide to use the newly-instituted amnesty clause, they would still have to pay him full value. The Flyers would be able to deduct his salary off the cap.
Meanwhile, newcomer Mason, a restricted free agent after this season welcomes the opportunity.
“With a fresh start, you forget all the negative things and go into a positive situation, and try to make the most out of it,’’ Mason told TSN. “Going to Philadelphia, with Bryzgalov, I’m looking forward to working with him and moving forward. I’m really looking forward to a fresh opportunity.’’
Both Mason and Hall are expected to join their new team Thursday in Toronto.