NHL 2011: Is It Time Blue Jackets Cut Ties with Steve Mason?

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NHL 2011: Is It Time Blue Jackets Cut Ties with Steve Mason?
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

On September 20th of last year, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave 22-year old goalie Steve Mason a two year contract extension worth $5.8 million.

This extension came after Mason had a below average sophomore season for the Blue Jackets, posting a .901 save percentage and a 3.06 goals against average.

However, the Jackets front office hoped that Mason would soon return to the form that won him the Calder Trophy the previous season.

Skip ahead to present day. The Blue Jackets again missed the playoffs, as they struggled in the last full month of the season and plummeted in the Western Conference standings.

The Jackets saw themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt in the middle of February and a lot of their success could be attributed to the strong play of Steve Mason. But a lot of the struggles the following month fall on his shoulders as well.

When the final numbers were tallied at the end of the season, Mason posted almost the exact same numbers as the previous season. He finished with a 3.03 goals against average, as well as a .901 save percentage.

General manager Steve Howson predicted a complete overhaul of the team at seasons end, as well as the coaching staff.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It started with the departure of goaltending coach Dave Rook in hopes of the team finding a full-time coach. Former Blue Jackets Marc Denis and Ron Tugnutt have expressed interest in the job already.

As Howson looks to solidify the position between the pipes, he has expressed an interest in hearing other team's offers for Mason.

This would not be the first time Howson was open to offers, as Mason was rumored of being dealt before the trade deadline earlier this year.

So should the Blue Jackets cut ties with Steve Mason? Or should he get yet another chance to prove that he is not a one-hit wonder?

In my honest opinion, I feel that it is time for Mason to go.

Mason has shown a lot of promise from time-to-time in his three years in Columbus, but his biggest issue is his consistency.

One example that comes to mind is the end of this season. In February, Mason won seven of the nine games that he started.

He finished the month with .928 save percentage and recorded two of his three shutouts.

There was no way that Howson was going to let him go at the trade deadline.

Rich Lam/Getty Images

However, after that, Mason would go on to only win two of his final 14 starts in the season. Of those 14 starts, five of the games went to a shootout and Mason only won one of them.

Other teams averaged 2.91 goals a game against him in the final stretch as Mason struggled to regain his confidence.

If the Blue Jackets want to be successful and again reach the postseason for the second time in franchise history, they need a more consistent goaltender.

One who gives them a shot to win night in and night out.

As a fan of Mason's, I would hate to see him go, but I, like the rest of Blue Jacket nation, want to see a winner put on the ice and Mason won't cut it.

There are a lot of teams out there that are looking for a goalie this offseason and Howson could hear a lot of interest in Mason.

However, his season stats may not be enough for the Jackets to get what they want in return, that being an offensive minded defenseman and a number one center.

If Mason was in fact to be traded, one player that could sweeten the deal is youngster Jakub Voracek. Voracek, like Mason, was used as trade bait earlier this year.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Mason is not the only goalie on the Jackets roster that could be looking for a new home, as backup Mathieu Garon will become a free agent this offseason.

However, it has been reported that Howson has began talks with Garon's agent and he could be resigned.

If that were to happen, the Jackets would most likely look for a number one goalie in free agency come July.

Notable free agent goalies this year include Florida's Tomas Vokoun, Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov, Toronto's Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Tampa's Mike Smith, Chicago's Marty Turco and Colorado's Peter Budaj.

With the NHL draft only two short months away, Steve Mason's days in Columbus could be numbered. Or could we see "Mase" get one more chance to return to his dominant form?

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