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Flyers to examine goaltending options for next season

May re-sign Steve Mason but don't want to be tied into long-term contract, GM Ron Hextall says

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Goaltender Steve Mason could be re-signed by the Philadelphia Flyers, but general manager Ron Hextall said they will examine all their options before making a decision for next season.

Mason was 26-21-8 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in 58 games. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"We're going to continue to monitor our options there," Hextall said Wednesday on NHL Now. "Obviously Steve Mason still is an option for us. But we're going to look around and see what else is out there. At the end we'll decide what our best option is and we'll try to move on it."

The Flyers signed Michal Neuvirth to a two-year, $5 million contract March 1. He was 11-11-1 with a 2.82 GAA and .891 save percentage. His save percentage was 48th among 48 goaltenders to play at least 25 games. The Flyers also had Anthony Stolarz, 23, make his NHL debut last season; he was 2-1-1 in seven games (four starts) with a 2.07 GAA and .928 save percentage.

Video: PHI@NJD: Mason snares Bennett's quick wrister

Either Neuvirth or Stolarz will have to be exposed for the Vegas Golden Knights to claim at the NHL Expansion Draft. Teams must leave unprotected one goaltender under contract for next season or a restricted free agent who has received a qualifying offer prior to the June 17 submission deadline. Stolarz can be a restricted free agent July 1.

Mason said April 12 that if he did return, he would like it to be as the clear No. 1 goaltender. Mason started 16 of the final 21 games during the regular season, going 10-4-2 with a 2.08 GAA and .928 save percentage as the Flyers pushed for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They finished seven points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference.

"The last two months of the year, when there was that clarity, that's when we had that success," Mason said. "We both understand, should I be here moving forward, that's something that would have to continue."

Hextall previously said he doesn't want to get tied into a long-term contract with a goaltender because of the prospects who are rapidly developing. Stolarz and partner Alex Lyon, 24, combined for a .912 save percentage with Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League.

In addition, Carter Hart, a second-round pick (No. 48) in the 2016 NHL Draft, was named the best goaltender in the Western Hockey League for the second straight season Wednesday and helped Canada win the silver medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. Felix Sandstrom, a third-round pick (No. 70) in 2015, was named the best goaltender playing for Sweden at the World Juniors. Merrick Madsen, a 2013 sixth-round pick (No. 162) helped Harvard reach the Frozen Four.

"We do have kids coming and I think everybody knows it," Hextall said April 13. "I don't have a lot of interest in getting into a long, drawn-out deal with a goaltender. But again, we'll look at our options and move when we feel is our best option at the appropriate time."

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