Latest on the Flyers and Sabres – April 6, 2017
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason and Buffalo Sabres winger Tyler Ennis face uncertain futures.
CSNPHILLY.COM: Tim Panaccio reports the biggest offseason issue facing Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is his goaltending. The fact he re-signed oft-injured Michal Neuvirth to a bargain contract over Steve Mason means nothing.
Mason is a UFA coming off a $4.1 million per season deal who, like Neuvirth, failed to play up to expectations. His overall numbers (25 wins, 2.67 goals-against average, .908 save percentage) weren’t good enough to help the Flyers reach the playoffs. However, in his final 16 games, he went 9-5-2 with a 2.15 GAA and .933 SP.
Given Mason’s inconsistency, Panaccio suggests he could be a risky re-signing even at a discounted rate. His recent criticism of his club’s play also has some of his teammates grumbling.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised to see Mason back with the Flyers next season. Neuvirth was at least affordable and can be exposed in the expansion draft. However, I don’t think he’s good enough to become a reliable full-time starter. Same goes for Mason. Goaltending’s been the Flyers’ weakness for far too long. Hextall must address the issue this summer.
Options via free agency include Los Angeles’ Ben Bishop and Chicago’s Scott Darling. Trade targets could include the New York Rangers’ Antti Raanta and Washington’s Philipp Grubauer.
Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury could also be an option. Given the intense rivalry between the two clubs, however, landing him is likely a long shot.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports Buffalo Sabres winger Tyler Ennis acknowledged last night’s home game against the Montreal Canadiens could be his last with the Sabres. “Anybody can get traded and there’s a new team coming in,” Ennis said, referring to the Vegas Golden Knights. “There’s so many different things.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ennis recently surfaced as a possible trade or expansion-draft candidate in the rumor mill. With two seasons remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $4.6 million, the Sabres could try moving him to free up cap room to bolster their blueline.
When healthy, the 27-year-old Ennis is an effective scoring forward, with three seasons of 20-plus goals and 40-or-more points. Over the last two seasons, however, he’s been sidelined for lengthy periods by injuries.
Combined with his cap hit, Ennis could prove difficult to move and not a very tempting option for the Golden Knights.