The Flyers will be pushing their shopping carts through the free-agent market when it opens for business Saturday, trying to sign someone who can bridge the gap until Carter Hart, Felix Sandstrom, or another prospect is NHL-ready in two or three years.
Yes, the Flyers are on another Great Goalie Search.
Maybe they get past their philosophical differences and re-sign Steve Mason.
Maybe they take a chance on an inexpensive goalie like Keith Kinkaid or Mike Condon.
Maybe they sign a veteran like Jonathan Bernier, Brian Elliott, or Antti Niemi.
One thing is certain: General manager Ron Hextall is not comfortable going with Michal Neuvirth and Anthony Stolarz as his tandem, so it would be a major surprise if they didn't fill up their shopping cart this weekend.
Assuming Hextall doesn't trade for Vegas' Calvin Pickard or some other goalie, he probably will pick from a lean group of free agents. A look at some of the candidates:
Brian Elliott (last salary-cap hit: $2.5 million). Elliott, a 32-year-old who once starred at the University of Wisconsin, had a so-so season with Calgary (2.55 goals-against average, .910 save percentage) after five mostly excellent years with defensively strong St. Louis teams. He would be a safe choice for Hextall.
Keith Kinkaid (last cap hit: $725,000). Hey, he went to Union College, the Flyers' unofficial farm team (see Shayne Gostisbehere and Mike Vecchione), so that makes him a candidate. He had a 2.64 goals-against average and .916 save percentage last season with the Devils, and he was lights-out in three games against the Flyers (3-0, 1.00 GAA, .967 save percentage). The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Kinkaid, who turns 28 on Tuesday, is a native of Farmingville, N.Y.
Steve Mason (last cap hit: $4.1 million). Mason, a solid but not spectacular goalie, says a team must have a defined No. 1 starter. Hextall says he plans a platoon for 2017-18. So why does the GM insist that the door isn't closed yet? The fact is, Mason would have been the defined No. 1 if the Flyers had signed him during the season. Instead, they puzzled everyone by signing the injury-prone Neuvirth — and then not protecting him in the expansion draft.
Mike Condon (last cap hit: $575,000). A Princeton alumnus, the 6-2, 197-pound Condon had a 2.50 GAA and .914 save percentage in 40 games with Ottawa last season. With Carey Price injured, he was Montreal's primary starter in 2015-16 (2.71 GAA, .903 save percentage). He had a very good AHL season before playing for the Habs, but is the 27-year-old Condon really much of an upgrade over Stolarz?
Jonathan Bernier (last cap hit: $4.15 million). He was drafted by Los Angeles (first round in 2006) when Hextall was there, so there's that. Bernier, 28, has never quite lived up to his potential, but he did spend three of his seasons with bad Toronto teams. With Anaheim last season, he had a 2.50 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
Ryan Miller (last cap hit: $6 million). Miller will turn 37 next month, and he is far from the same goalie who was a standout in Buffalo. In 54 games with Vancouver last season, he had a 2.80 GAA and a .914 save percentage. But it should be noted that Neuvirth's .891 save percentage last season was the worst in the NHL among NHL goalies who played at least 15 games.
Anders Nilsson (last cap hit: $1 million): Nilsson is proof that size — he's 6-6 and 229 pounds — doesn't always produce a dominating goalie. His career numbers are pedestrian (2.94 GAA, .908 save percentage), although he was better than that with Buffalo last season (2.67, .923).
Antti Niemi (last cap hit: $4.5 million): Bought out of his contract by Dallas, Niemi was awful last year, compiling a 12-12-4 record with a 3.30 GAA and an .892 save percentage. His career numbers, however, are much better (2.49 GAA, .913 save percentage). Niemi, who will turn 34 before the season, was Chicago's goalie when the Blackhawks beat the Flyers in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.