The Flyers haven’t had the best of luck so far this season between the pipes. Starting net minder Brian Elliott is recuperating from surgery and won’t be available until late March. Elliott is not a top-flight goaltender and is probably only a tick above average, but he has gone through the playoff battles and is capable of going on a hot streak.
The Flyers then lost backup Michal Neuvirth on Sunday for 4-6 weeks due to a lower-body injury. Philadelphia was always going to have to acquire another goalie as they couldn’t go into the stretch run and the playoffs with Neuvirth starting and rookie Alex Lyon backing him up. Neuvirth has always been injury prone and Sunday just proved that point.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 20, 2018
Mrazek was once thought to be the heir apparent in goal for Detroit. He played 29 games in 2014-15 and had a 2.38 GAA and .918 save percentage. He followed that up in 2015-16 with a GAA of 2.33 and a save percentage of .921 in 54 games. Then several things seemed to lead to his unhappiness with the organization. He had an attitude problem due to losing playing time and the starting job to Jimmy Howard. The Vegas Golden Knights wouldn’t even claim him in the expansion draft.
Mrazek will give the Flyers a starter in net who should not only be reliable, but also one that has upside. He is playing for a contract as he is a free agent after the season. What better way for him to earn a long-term contract with either Philly or another team than to help lead the Flyers on a significant playoff run? Mrazek is a must grab in Fantasy leagues even if you don’t need a goaltender, as you don’t want to let a playoff goaltender just sit there on the waiver wire for your opponent to grab.
The Flyers still have ammunition to make another trade if they choose to do so. They lost Wayne Simmonds for the next few weeks after he suffered an upper-body injury in the win over the Rangers on Sunday. Could Evander Kane be in play here? We all know Kane is going to be traded by the deadline, it’s just a matter of where. Why not Philly? While the Flyers do need help on defense, if they can’t acquire a defender they may need to think about bolstering their offense. The problem may be that Kane is a left-wing and the Flyers are pretty much set there with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. They need more help on the right side.
Cory Schneider is getting closer and closer to a return to action from groin and hip injuries. He is practicing with the team and although it’s unlikely he plays Thursday versus Minnesota, he could return as soon as this weekend or early next week. Those owners who have been rostering Keith Kincaid had better start planning on him losing the starting job.
The Leafs will have a tough decision about what to do with impending free agent James van Riemsdyk. He has 25 goals in 61 games this season, including eight on the power play. The problem is he will command a pretty hefty contract and it’s unlikely that Toronto will be able to re-sign him, as they have other, younger players, who are coming up for new contracts in the near future as well and they will have problems manipulating the salary cap in order to sign everyone. Someone has to go and van Riemsdyk is that someone. Although it may not seem wise to let a productive 30-goal scorer leave via free agency for nothing in return, trading him for prospects or future draft picks this season also may not seem wise. The Leafs are a Stanley Cup contender and will need van Riemsdyk to reach their ultimate goal. It’s not like the team didn’t know this was coming. They made this decision when they signed Patrick Marleau to a three-year $6.25 million contract last offseason. They knew they couldn’t afford both Marleau and van Riemsdyk, and Marleau won. Unless someone is willing to trade an NHL- ready player now for van Riemsdyk (which is unlikely but not impossible) the best Toronto may be able to hope for is to trade his rights before the NHL draft for a draft pick.
Petr Mrazek Photo Credit: Tom Mihalek