By Barbara Harrison
You can’t say Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is resting on the laurels he earned last week with the NHL draft.
The Flyers signed goaltender Michal Neuvirth to back up Steve Mason to a two-year contract.
Neuvirth will be paid $1.5 million in 2015-16 and $1.75 million in 2016-17.
“We’re excited about it,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall told NHL.com. “We think he’s a proven goalie. He’s a good goalie. One of the attractive things for us with [Neuvirth] is … if something happens to [Mason] he’d have to carry the load and he’s done that in the past. We think we brought in a real good goalie that’s going to give us a real solid backup. I’m sure he’s going to play more than the typical backup.”
In five games with the New York Islanders after getting traded from the Buffalo Sabres last season, Neuvirth, 27, had a 2.94 goals-against average and .881 save percentage. He had a .918 save percentage in 27 games with Buffalo prior to the trade.
Neuvirth has a 2.73 GAA and .912 save percentage in 168 career NHL games spanning seven seasons.
Hextall said there was no progress in contracts for restricted free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto or forward Jakub Voracek, who is entering the final season of his contract.
Del Zotto, 25, led Flyers defensemen with 10 goals and was second with 32 points in 64 games.
“There’s no hurry here,” Hextall said. “We’ve had good talks. We talked at the draft, we talked a little before that. There’s no hurry here. They’re not in a hurry, we’re not in a hurry. … We’ll sit down there when things settle down in the next few days or the middle of this month and hopefully get something done or keep working on it.”
Voracek, who tied for fourth in the League with 81 points, can be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016. Wednesday was the first day the Flyers could sign him to a new contract.
“We’ve talked about starting to talk but we haven’t talked yet,” Hextall said.
The Flyers did sign center Tim Brent and defenseman Davis Drewiske to one-year, two-way contracts and right wing Chris Conner to a two-year, two-way contract. Hextall said they are expected to play for the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and provide organizational depth.
“We added a little bit of skill up front and a couple smart players who have played quite a few games up top,” Hextall said. ” … We needed some depth, we need some guys to make us a better team at the minor-league level as well as options when players get hurt. Hopefully we’ll add a couple more guys in the next few days to strengthen us even more.”