Flyers cloak themselves in mystery, get Mason from Blue Jackets for Leighton

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The endless goaltending soap opera just got a spin-off.

In their first foray into dealing ahead of the 3 PM trade deadline, the Flyers acquired Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Multiple reports initially stated it is for multiple draft picks, but with the club at the 50-contract limit thanks to picking up Adam Hall off waivers, another body had go to accommodate current CBA rules.

That body turned out to be little-used backup Michael Leighton, and the draft pick is a third-rounder in 2015 as the club confirmed this afternoon.

Leighton participated in one game, a 5-1 loss at Tampa on January 27, in his return to the NHL after spending last season with the Phantoms in the AHL.

“We like Steve as a young goalie,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said upon revelation of the deal this afternoon. “We still think there’s tremendous upside there. We’ll bring him in and work with him and try to help him achieve his goals of becoming a better goalie as well.”

Mason, of course, was a former Calder Trophy winner who had the starting job wrestled away from him twice — the last time was this season by none other than ex-Flyers backup Sergei Bobrovsky, who is in the middle of a torrid stretch which has garnered him international attention.

The 24-year-old was 3-6-1 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 13 appearances with Columbus this year. He owns a 96-99-27 record to go along with a 2.90 GAA and .903 save percentage with 27 career shutouts.

Four years ago, Mason was hot property, coming off a rookie season which saw him rack up a 33-20-7 record, 2.29 GAA and franchise-record 10 shutouts for a Jackets club that reached the postseason for the first time.

He will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

“I’m extremely excited, really looking forward to a fresh opportunity,” Mason said in an interview with TSN of Canada earlier in the day. “I’m going to a great organization with some players I have some history with them from World Juniors. Just really looking forward to meeting the new guys and starting off fresh.”

According to the Post-Star, Cal Heeter is on his way to Philadelphia to serve as Ilya Bryzgalov’s backup for Wednesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.