After using a record eight goalies in 2018-19 and having a franchise history of goalies in and out that’s become a story of legend in the NHL, the Flyers have finally fixed their goalie situation for 2019-20.
Of course, under the assumption that Carter Hart stays healthy, the Flyers will have a fairly solid goalie situation, probably not seen since 2015-16 when Steve Mason (.918) and Michal Neuvirth (.924) took the Flyers into the playoffs. Now, unlike that year, where both Mason and Neuvirth were in their primes, the Flyers tandem looks a bit different. Carter Hart will look to step into the role of NHL starter at the age of 21, while 34 year old Brian Elliott will share time and be his mentor.
That said, labeling Hart as the starter and Elliott as the backup is probably not the best way to look at this season’s goalie tandem. While Hart should take the majority of the starts, it’s unlikely to be a traditional 55-27 split. More likely, depending on hot gloves, and injuries and Hart needing to develop, it may creep closer to a 45-37 split. It’s likely that during certain stretches, Elliott will take something akin to a starter’s load but never keeping it for long. It wouldn’t be shocking if, due to play, Elliott takes 2 games during a 3 game in 4 night stretch.
Alex Lyon or JF Berube will likely be the swing man in even of injury, but as both require waivers, there’s always the minuscule chance that one is plucked on waivers if another team has the injury bug on their goalie system like the Flyers did last year.
In terms of waiver exempt options, Felix Sandstrom and Kirill Ustimenko are both signed and will likely vie for playing time with the Phantoms or the ECHL Reading Royals.
In terms of long term development, having Sandstrom and Ustimenko play the maximum amount of games possible, even by splitting across the ECHL and AHL, is preferable. As injuries and the past have shown, having goalie depth is important and the Flyers can get there by using a reasonably well stocked farm system at the position.