Goalie Michal Neuvirth has regressed from last year, but the Flyers on Wednesday signed him to a two-year contract extension for a total of $5 million.
His cap hit will be a reasonable $2.5 million per season. If Neuvirth, 28, reverts to last year's form, he will be a bargain and will be a bridge to the Flyers' goalie prospects when they are ready.
It will be interesting to see if they expose Neuvirth to Las Vegas in the expansion draft and protect Anthony Stolarz. Stolarz had been the only goalie under contract who could be exposed in the expansion draft. Signing Neuvirth changed that.
The Flyers also signed fourth-line center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to a two-year extension that will pay him $1.45 million per year. Bellemare, who turns 32 on Monday, is one of the Flyers best defensive forwards and penalty killers.
Before signing, Bellemare and Neuvirth both could have become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Wednesday, and goalie Steve Mason said he can’t wait until it passes so he knows where he will spend the rest of the season.
“It’s not easy,” Mason said about the uncertainty of the situation. “It’s fun for the fans and for people who don’t have to go through it, but it’s a stressful time, especially when you have families involved and people with kids who have to uproot and move.”
Mason, a potential unrestricted free agent this summer, has an infant daughter.
“When 3 p.m. comes, everybody’s happy,” Mason said. “It’s not a really a fun time to be a part of.”
Mason said he wants to stay with the Flyers, but Neuvirth's signing makes it doubtful.
“I’ve been here for a handful of years now. I kind of feel like there’s some unfinished business,” Mason said. “I want to be a guy who helps this team get to the next level.”
Neuvirth is 10-9-1 with a 2.90 goals-against average and .897 save percentage; Mason is 17-17-6 with a 2.83 GAA and .903 save percentage.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol hinted he hopes his team doesn’t make any moves before the deadline.
Hakstol said he has “discussions” with GM Ron Hextall and gives his input, “but I don’t make those decisions.”
Added Hakstol: “We’ve been real focused here over the last couple of weeks with our group, with this group, and trying to get us pushed in the right direction. We’ve played a lot of good hockey without good results over the last couple weeks.”
The Flyers have won just three of their last 10 games, including Tuesday’s 4-0 victory over Colorado, the NHL’s worst team.
“We finally had some good things go our way (Tuesday) and I want to focus on those positives of those with this group and keep pushing forward,” Hakstol said. “Even though we’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole here, I think there’s a lot of belief in this locker room.”
The Flyers are four points out of a playoff spot with 20 games left.
They were three points out of a playoff berth last year, made no moves at the deadline, and sneaked into the playoffs.
Breakaways. Mark Streit has a limited no-trade clause; he has 10 teams to which he would agree to be traded. … Winger Travis Konecny (leg injury) participated in a full practice; he said he will not play Thursday, but did not rule out Saturday in Washington. ... Sean Couturier was ill and had to leave Wednesday’s practice early. ... The Flyers have a key game Thursday against visiting Florida, one of the teams in the wild-card hunt. ... Mason on scoreboard-watching: “We can’t worry about what other teams are doing; we have to focus solely on the Philadelphia Flyers’ schedule and win as many hockey games as we can.”