Flyers fans were frantically refreshing their twitter feeds all day Wednesday in hopes of receiving updates on a possible trade for a new goalie to provide this team with some insurance while still hunting for the playoffs.
To much surprise, the first alert from the Flyers was the call up of Lehigh Valley winger Oskar Lindblom and the activation of Anthony Stolarz to the Lehigh Valley roster. This was very exciting news. Oskar Lindblom is very deserving of the call up, and to see Anthony Stolarz finally making progress in his comeback after his knee surgery is a delightful sight.
Here's a power play tally Lindblom had Friday in Springfield. There's a simple recipe for success to his game. He gets to the net. pic.twitter.com/JZvKIk1Ro6
— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) February 20, 2018
Shortly after they called up Lindblom, the Flyers announced that the team traded for Detroit Red Wings net-minder, Petr Mrazek. In exchange, the Flyers have given Detroit two draft picks–a 2018 4th round and a 2019 3rd round. The picks are both conditional. The 2018 depends on how many wins Mrazek gets in a Flyers jersey, as well as how far this team goes in the playoffs. The 2019 depends on if the Flyers choose to re-sign him for next season. Mrazek will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Hextall: “I didn’t feel like it was fair to not have a proven NHL goaltender for this team.”
— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) February 20, 2018
The Red Wings have not been as good as they usually are these past couple of seasons, which is likely one of the things that prompted the trade. Mrazek is a good goaltender, and has proven that in seasons past. But as the Red Wings’ numbers have dropped, so have Mrazek’s. It’s possible that he is simply in need of new scenery. Coming to a playoff team that is currently playing some great hockey is certainly a good way to make that happen.
With Mrazek needing new scenery, this scenario is relatable to the same situation that Steve Mason was in when he was first brought in from Columbus. Steve Mason was a solid goalie with decent numbers. He was younger and had a lot to prove. But as Columbus started to free fall, so did Mason’s numbers and confidence. A new team helped rejuvenate his career, and eventually led to the Flyers keeping him for multiple years. Mrazek also has a reputation of having a poor attitude, but this seems to be a theme when it comes to goaltending in the NHL and is something this team can easily fix. As a restricted free agent this summer, he also has a chance now to play for a longer term contract with a larger AAV in place. Joining a team in a current playoff spot is a decent starting spot for him, so he needs to capitalize on this huge opportunity.
Because of the conditions on the draft picks, this was a low-risk deal for Ron Hextall and the Flyers. If Mrazek plays well enough to warrant an extension after this season, then he could be part of the future tandem with Brian Elliott and the price will be worth the return. If so, Neuvirth has likely seen his last days in a Flyers jersey, despite his contract through next season. If Mrazek doesn’t play well, then the Flyers can simply walk away and deal with their goalie issue through free agency this off-season.
Many Flyers fans are concerned about giving up multiple draft picks, especially considering how much talent Ron Hextall has managed to acquire through the draft in the past few years. But even with the loss of both, the Flyers will still own 16 picks through the 2018 and 2019 drafts. Based on his track record, it’s also likely that Hextall will acquire more before all is said and done.
At the end of the day, this deal had to be made because of the current situation, and overall Hextall has managed to put the Flyers in a much better position than they were before the trade.
With all of this positive news also came some negative news on the injury front. This morning, the Flyers confirmed Neuvirth will miss 4-6 weeks. Wayne Simmonds has been added to the injury report. He will be missing 2-3 weeks.
Before this injury, Simmonds has missed less than 10 games since joining the Flyers. For his style of play, that is simply amazing. He without a doubt a crucial member of this team. He is a scorer, grinder, and a leader. It is tough to see Simmonds miss time at such a critical part of the season, but there is a silver lining to all of this. This could become a time where we get to see other players step up. Players like Lindblom, Jordan Weal, and Taylor Leier all have the opportunity now to prove what they can bring to the lineup in a pivotal point in the season.
The Flyers have some very important games coming up and with playoffs on the horizon, it’s time to enjoy the intense hockey that is about to unfold.