On a trade deadline day that could have spurred change for a Flyers team mired in a tough battle for the East's final playoff spot and has a stockhold of young talent waiting to break through, the team not only appeared as though it would stand pat Wednesday afternoon, they signed two players to contract extensions.
The most controversial was a two-year, $5 million extension to backup goalie Michal Neuvirth (or is he the starter?) — adding years to the deal of a goalie with a .887 goals against average. Not exactly a stellar stat line.
The goalie is 28-year-old and has been brilliant at times in net for Philly but has been woefully inconsistent. He was much better statwise in 2015-16, posting a .924 goals against mark and an 18-8 record (he is 10-9 this season).
The move indicates that Philly could be contemplating parting ways with Steve Mason, who is due to be a free agent this summer, just as Neuvirth was. It also signals that the team has confidence in up and coming goaltender Anthony Stolarz. With an expansion draft (for Las Vegas) coming this offseason, the team will likely need to protect Stolarz and make Neuvirth available.
Philly also inked Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to a two-year pact Wednesday. The 32-year-old forward has recorded three goals and three assists through 62 games this season but has proven to be an extremely potent defensive forward and third or fourthlike staple.
His deal is reportedly worth $2.9 million over two seasons.
Rumors of a possible trade of several players like Michael Del Zotto and Mark Streit (and several others) surfaced in days leading up to the deadline, as did talk of perhaps the team jettisoning captain Claude Giroux due to recent lack of production.
The Flyers currently sit four games out of a playoff spot, but the team closed a seven-point gap last spring after standing pat at the trade deadline. The team is no doubt hoping yet another vote of confidence from GM Ron Hextall will give them confidence with 20 games left.