Photo: Regiony ČR/Jan Belej
The Flyers are in the market for a backup goalie and up tight against the salary cap which means the traditional UFA market is thin. This season, the NHL saw the rise of relative unknowns in Scott Darling, Andrew Hammond and Cam Talbot all back stopping teams down the stretch or even in the playoffs as time drew near. Luckily the European leagues are flush with goalies who could make the jump to the NHL.
One such goalie is current Czech league goalie of Trinec Ocelari HC, Simon Hrubec.
He’s posted some solid save percentages over the past few years in the Czech League which is probably the third best European Elite league behind the KHL and Swedish Hockey League. With a ~.926 SV% over his last 2500+ shots, it’s fairly safe to say Hrubec is quite good at keeping the puck out of the net. While goaltending is quite difficult to predict across the leagues, the typical trend is that a high save percentage is a high save percentage and it gives a goalie the best odds of translating successful play across leagues.
To put it another way, goalies are like a roulette wheel, a high save percentage is like betting on red, you’ve got the best odds of being right, but you’re still less than 50% likely of winning. This same uncertainty is why drafting goalies isn’t the best option, predicting performance in the mid 20s with an 18 year old is too difficult. It’s better to spin the wheel with undrafted UFAs or late round picks instead.
This is where Hrubec comes in. At age 23, he’s likely to be bound by a 2 year ELC, so if he struggles he can be sent back to the Phantoms and not count against the salary cap at all. If he catches fire like Bobrovsky did as a rookie in 2011, even better. If not, Hrubec falls into the role occupied by Rob Zepp this season, the injury callup.