[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it on http://broadstreetbully.net.]
Whether it was through deadline deal trades or offseason signings, the Flyers have picked up some new faces. The following pieces are a quick run down of the major new signings that Flyers fans can expect to see in the lineup at the start of next season.
After the jump, this post covers: newest backup goalie, Michal Neuvirth
Michal Neuvirth’s Career Stats
Michal Neuvirth has an interesting NHL story. He’s become somewhat a journeyman. When he broke into the NHL with the Washington Capitals, it was assumed he was their new starter. He was going to blaze a new legacy in Washington, like Olaf Kolzig did before him. But that never really seemed to pan out and the Capitals turned to replacement options, Semyon Varlamov and Brayden Holtby, to shoulder the goalie responsibility when Neuvirth faltered.
With Washington not panning out, Neuvirth made his way to the Buffalo Sabres. Unfortunately, the Sabres were in the middle of a tank job in their quest to gain a top draft pick. That meant that Neuvirth faced a lot of shots on a nightly basis and his record didn’t reflect how well, or not well, he was actually playing.
On the lowest point in his time in Buffalo, Neuvirth commented:
“Probably the lowest (moment) was when I didn’t win for a while and had that losing streak for a while. That was really tough,” he said in regards to a 10-game losing streak.
Afer the depressing stint in Buffalo, Neuvirth was traded to the Islanders to backup Jaroslav Halak and played out the rest of the season there. He was serviceable at best and the season ended, along with his contract.
As a free agent, Neuvirth signed a 2 year, $3.25 million dollar contract to play backup to current Flyers goalie, Steve Mason.
So what does this mean for the Flyers current goalie situation?
Odds point to nothing at all. Steve Mason should carry most of the goaltending work. And Neuvirth should only play in the occasional game and probably most back-to-back situations.
Is Neuvirth going to blow you away? Possibly. Is it a low risk, high reward signing for the Flyers? Absolutely. They’re getting a goalie in Neuvirth who was expected to be an everyday starter but never quite panned out. Neuvirth is capable of playing a lot of games, if need be, and can be relied on to step in to tough situations because of his previous experience. He is also younger than Ray Emery and his injury history looks a lot better.
If this year is anything like last year, the Flyers goaltenders are going to face a lot of pucks. The Flyers defense will look much different at the beginning of next season. With Coburn and Grossmann already gone, the status of Luke Schenn in limbo (since he’s the most likely to be traded between now and opening night), the signing of KHL defenseman Medvedev, and the menagerie of prospects that are also trying to crack a roster spot, Mason and Neuvirth are going to have an interesting time working with a defense core that will be figuring out how to play with each other.
But, now that the Flyers have Neuvirth, they should be able to comfortably give Steve Mason breaks so he isn’t worn out by the all-star break.
This is great news for everyone involved.
Mason gets rest, Neuvirth gets reps, and Flyers fans (hopefully) get victories.