June 30, 2017
Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers wasted no time replacing free agent goalie Steve Mason after Mason's agent confirmed Thursday night that his client will be playing elsewhere next season.
As first reported by Andy Strickland of FOX Sports Midwest, the Flyers and goalie Brian Elliott have reached an agreement on a two-year, $5.5 million deal. Earlier in the day, Strickland was suggesting it could be a three-year deal for Elliott, although it now appears to be locked in for two.
Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer confirmed Strickland's report a few minutes later. The deal is expected to be made official on Saturday afternoon, when NHL free agents can begin signing with new teams.
This signing makes sense for the Flyers both financially and, more importantly, in terms of its length. Both Elliott and Michal Neuvirth are on two-year deals, meaning they won't really block any of the team's promising goalie prospects like Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon and Carter Hart (just to name a few).
Before this most-recent signing, however, it was tough to imagine a tandem of Neuvirth and Stolarz working out, given that the former has only once started more than 30 games in a season and the latter only has four NHL starts under his belt. Now, they can rotate between Elliott and Neuvirth, while allowing Stolarz to start the season in the AHL and play meaningful minutes until he is ready to be called up.
Essentially, Hextall provided a nice stopgap without having to commit a ton of money (or years) to a top-shelf free agent.
After five seasons in St. Louis, the 32-year-old Elliott spent last season with the Flames, where he made 45 starts, going 26-18-3 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.55 GAA.