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Flyers unlikely to rush into talks with Mason

DETROIT - Flyers goalie Steve Mason can become a restricted free agent after this season, but "this is where I want to be," he said the other day.

Flyers goalie Steve Mason. (Mark Humphrey/AP)
Flyers goalie Steve Mason. (Mark Humphrey/AP)Read more

DETROIT - Flyers goalie Steve Mason can become a restricted free agent after this season, but "this is where I want to be," he said the other day.

The feeling is mutual, though that doesn't necessarily mean the Flyers will rush into negotiations. Because he is on a one-year deal, Mason cannot begin negotiating with the Flyers until Jan. 1.

"At some point, we'll touch base with Steve's agent, but a lot of players don't like to do anything during the season," said general manager Paul Holmgren, who got burned by the last long-term contract he gave to a goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov's nine-year, $51 million deal in 2011.

Mason's agent, Anton Thun, said Tuesday that he welcomes talking to Holmgren and that negotiations would not have a negative effect on his client.

"At the end of the day, we just want to arrive at fair-market value and a fair-market term," Thun said.

Mason, 25, who is being paid $1.5 million this season, is among the league leaders in goals-against average (2.09) and save percentage (.934), and he has kept the low-scoring Flyers within striking distance for a Metropolitan Division playoff spot.

He doesn't figure to get the type of deal that Carey Price signed with Montreal (six years, $39 million) in 2012, but Thun thinks Mason has a similar pedigree.

The Flyers will make the third stop in their six-game, 6,801-mile trip Wednesday in Detroit against the injury-riddled Red Wings, and Mason is scheduled to be between the pipes.

They are expected to be without center Vinny Lecavalier (back spasms) for the second straight game, but Detroit will be missing a pair of injured top-line players, Henrik Zetterberg (30 points) and Pavel Datsyuk (23).

"It doesn't change a thing," Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds said. "They're a veteran team. They know how to win."

Detroit, winner of four straight, will get its first look this season at Mason, who has been the definition of consistency ever since Holmgren stole him from Columbus late last season for Michael Leighton and a third-round pick in the 2015 draft.

It seems a crime that the Flyers have lost more games (10) than they have won (nine) with Mason in the net.

Their struggling offense is the reason. The Flyers are averaging just 2.07 goals per game and are on pace to break the club's all-time low - 2.29 per game in 1968-69.

Asked whether he was shopping for offensive help, Holmgren said, "Same refrain. I'm always looking, but I think I've been pretty consistent in [saying] I like our team."

Holmgren looks at Claude Giroux (four goals), Jake Voracek (three), Scott Hartnell (five), Steve Downie (one), and Simmonds (five) and sees players who have 25- to 30-goal potential, based on their pasts.

But one-third of the way into the season, here are the scoring paces of those forwards, with their career highs in parentheses:

Downie: three goals (22).

Voracek: nine goals (22, but prorated to 38 because of the lockout-shortened season).

Giroux: 12 goals (28).

Hartnell: 15 goals (37).

Simmonds: 15 goals (28).

In other words, Mason can continue playing like an elite goalie and it won't matter if these players don't start producing.