Philadelphia Flyers Need to Move on From Steve Mason


Over the last five years, Steve Mason has been a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, fans have seen the highs and lows he brings to the ice. But after two good seasons, Mason looks like he is declining.

During the 2014-15 season, Mason peaked in his career with a .928 save percentage and an average of 2.25 goals against. Mason followed up his outstanding season with another above average season, finishing with a .918 save percentage and an average of 2.51 goals against to go along with four shutouts. However, in the playoffs, Mason’s numbers exploded. In his three starts, all of which he lost, he averaged 4.09 goals against with a .852 save percentage.

On the current season, Mason has continued his decline that started in the playoffs. Mason currently has a .899 save percentage, which ranks him tied for 38th among goaltenders who qualify. The solution for goaltending is not on the current Flyers roster as backup Michal Neuvirth has also been abysmal this season.

The Philadelphia Flyers have one of the deepest farm systems in regard to goaltending. There are some guys who could give the Flyers an upgrade now, as well as guys who can add depth in the future. We’ll touch on those options now.

Anthony Stolarz

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Anthony Stolarz has been the long awaited goaltending prospect for the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s been in the system since he was drafted in the second round in 2012. Stolarz has been groomed for the last three seasons while playing in Lehigh Valley.

This season Stolarz has even seen time at the NHL level. He filled in as the backup for Mason while Neuvirth was injured. While he only played in four games, where he posted a .938 save percentage. Everyone saw was he was capable of doing if given the playing time.

With Mason’s decline and Stolarz looking ready, Stolarz is the clear first choice to replace Mason now and for the future.

Alex Lyon

While Stolarz has gotten the spotlight in Lehigh Valley for the past couple of seasons, the former Yale goaltender has taken over the role as the starter for the Phantoms while Stolarz was on the Flyers. In his first professional season, Lyon has started 27 of 41 total games and has posted a .909 save percentage with a 2.72 GAA. Lyon gives the Flyers insurance if Stolarz fails at the NHL level.

No one is counting on Lyon to be the next great Flyers goaltender. But Lyon gives the Flyers insurance as a stopgap for the next two prospects if Stolarz fails at the NHL level.

Felix Sandstrom

Felix Sandstrom was the third goaltender taken in the 2015 NHL draft. Since then he has seen his stock rise as he continues to improve playing in the Swedish Hockey League.

The most impressive achievement on Sandstrom’s resume was in the World Junior Championships at the beginning of 2017. Sandstrom carried the Swedish team to a fourth place finish. In the tournament, Sandstrom had a 2.17 GAA and a .915 save percentage. He was also voted the most outstanding goaltender in the tournament.

With just a core of Stolarz, Lyon, and Sandstrom it seems the Flyers have a good chance of fixing the goaltending problems that have plagued the team since the decline of current General Manager Ron Hextall. But the in the 2016 NHL entry draft the Flyers may have set themselves up for a decade.

Carter Hart

Carter Hart was the first goaltender taken in the 2016 draft and his stats show that is not hard to see why. The Edmonton native has been a dominant force in the Western Hockey League. He received recognition for his stellar play after the 2015-16 season. Hart was named the CHL Goaltender of the Year and won the Del Wilson Trophy as the best goaltender in the WHL.

In the WHL this season Hart has a GAA of just 1.90 and save percentage of .927.  Hart also participated in the World Juniors Championship for team Canada and helped them earn a silver medal.

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Hart’s style of play has drawn comparisons to current great NHL goaltenders like Carey Price and Braden Holtby. But Hart is still a couple years away from making it to the big club. But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a buzz around him. With the plethora of goaltending talent for the Flyers, it should be an easy decision for Hextall to move on from the current tandem in between the pipes sooner rather than later.