Saturday, January 18, 2014

Flyers show faith in Mason with second contract extension

Always a franchise whose front office knows what they want, goes for it, and then keeps players they like, the Philadelphia Flyers have struck again.

On Saturday afternoon, reports surfaced that goaltender Steve Mason, a restricted free agent at the end of this season, has been given another contract extension. Additional report out of Canada cited it is a three-year extension worth $4.1 million per season.

"I'm glad it's done. I think, you guys can ask Steve later, I'm sure he feels the same way, said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. "We got it out of the way, we can move on. Now he just needs to worry about his job and not anything else. It's probably good in that regard."

The nominal #1 goalie for Craig Berube this season, Mason has produced a 19-11-5 record, 2.48 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and one shutout in 36 games thus far. His win total is the most since winning 20 in his sophomore campaign in 2009-10, and it's expected he will finish the year with more than the 24 victories earned in 2010-11.

Mason, who was brought here in a trade-deadline deal with Columbus last March, was already signed to a $1.5 million extension for one season within a month of his acquisition.

This new pact comes at a curious time, statistically, for the 25-year-old. After failing to allow more than three goals in any of his 27 appearances dating from last season's trade through December 4, Mason has surrendered at least three goals in 11 of his last 17 times in the crease.

No worries, according to the man who dealt for his services in exchange for Michael Leighton and a third-round pick in this year's draft.

"Well I think if you look at this season in a nutshell, he was good when the team was real bad early in the year. In the last little while as the team's gotten better, I think Steve's been up and down a little bit," Holmgren acknowledged. "We certainly expect him to get better over the next three and a half years, or three plus years, whatever this is, with the team and grow with the team. He's a good goalie and we believe he's going to get better. That's why we did what we did."

Mason was tabbed to start the opener of this home-and-home with the New York Islanders, but was yanked after giving up four goals on 24 shots in less than two periods. Berube absolved his starter of blame, placing it on the defense and forwards, also admitting it was a move intended to wake up his team.

"Yeah, definitely. It's nice to have that in the rear-view mirror now, just looking forward to being here for the foreseeable future," he said when asked how he felt without the pressure of having to perform with his old deal and a new one hanging in the balance.

It worked, as three goals in the third period produced a 6-4 victory. The back end of this home-and-home set takes place at Nassau Coliseum on Monday afternoon.

Since arriving in Philly, he's put up a 23-13-5 mark in 44 contests. 
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