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Will Michal Neuvirth find stability with the Flyers?

When the Flyers signed Michal Neuvirth to open their free agency period earlier this summer, it provided them a younger option to back Steve Mason up -- after all, Ray Emery had run his course and was largely inconsistent in the second year of his second tenure with the organization. 

Emery finished his season with a 3.06 GAA and a save percentage of .894, his worst numbers since the 2007-08 campaign. And given his age -- he turned 32 just prior to the start of the season -- it wasn't likely that his numbers would return to form. Moving on made sense, and the Flyers were thus able to sign Neuvirth to a two-year, $3.25 million deal.

Neuvirth, 27, joins the Flyers in search of a stable environment after a brief stint with the New York Islanders, where he posted a 1-3-1 record in five games. He's become somewhat of a journeyman, after what was once a promising start to his professional career.

Washington selected Neuvirth in the second round (34th overall) in the 2006 draft. He backstopped their American League-affiliate Hershey Bears to back-to-back Calder Cup championships in 2009 and 2010, winning the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy in 2009 as playoff MVP. In 2010-11, he earned the Capitals' starting job and showed promise in what was eventually a second-round loss to Tampa Bay, but lost the job to Tomas Vokoun in 2011 and incumbent starter Braden Holtby the following season.

At the 2014 trade deadline, Holtby was dealt to Buffalo for Jaroslav Halak as well as a third-round draft choice, and posted a 6-19-3 record with a 2.96 GAA and .921 SP in 29 games for a dismal, floundering Sabres club. At this year's deadline, he was dealt to the Islanders for Chad Johnson and another third-rounder.

The Flyers are the fourth team that Neuvirth will suit up for since 2014, and the Czech netminder will assume the backup role that he's been quite familiar with over the past few seasons. As such, he'll look for something that backups aren't always in search of -- a sense of stability.

As one can imagine, it's not exactly easy bouncing around from team to team in such short order. It's a tough blow to one's confidence -- especially for someone who was so touted early in their career.

Another factor in Neuvirth's long-term stability with the franchise is the development of prospects such as Anthony Stolarz, who will enter his second professional season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Orange and Black also added three goaltending prospects in this year's draft with Felix Sandstrom, Matej Tomak and Ivan Fedotov, solidifying their young pipeline. Goaltenders are always noted for the length that it takes for them to develop, so that will buy Neuvirth some time for now.

The Orange and Black will be providing Michael Neuvirth with the sense of stability he's been looking for over the past few seasons -- not exactly a long-term sense of stability, but stability nonetheless. How long that stability will last will only be determined by his play on the ice, as well as the progress of up-and-comers in the organization.

Rob Riches is a contributor to Flyerdelphia and Sports Talk Philly. Follow him on Twitter @Riches61


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