There was much ridicule when Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, mostly centered around the fact that the Flyers had previously traded a goalie to the Jackets that turned out to be a Vezina winner.
Plus, Mason looked like was headed to Bust-ville after winning the Calder in 2009.
But he was brilliant in a 7-game audition for the Flyers last season and more than competent for the Flyers this season. That’s resulted in a three-year, $12.3 million contract for the would-be restricted free agent.
Mason is 19-11-5 with a 2.48 GAA and a .917 save percentage on a team that that got off to a terrible start. His steadiness in goal is one of the reasons the Flyers and Coach Craig Berube have been able to rebound. For example, he has a .901 save percentage in his 16 losing efforts this season. He’s keeping them in games.
(Full marks to Jeff Reese, Flyers goalie coach, for helping turn Mason around.)
His. $4.1 million annual cap hit edges him just ahead of Cory Schneider’s cap number for the New Jersey Devils ($4 million).
Is he going to work with the Flyers, going forward? You’d still like to see him in a tandem than carrying the freight on his own, even if he’s earned the glut of starts this season. Ray Emery is a UFA next summer.
Overall, it’s the next chapter in a quirky hockey fable: Goalie wins rookie of the year, falls apart, loses his job, comes to a place where goalies have been doomed to fail and ends up earning a considerable contract.