It’s no secret that the Flyers need an elite goalie to compete for, and ultimately win, the Stanley Cup.
If there was any doubt whatsoever, just look at the goalies for the four remaining teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Two of them are finalists for the Vezina this season, one won the award two years ago and the other has three Stanley Cups on his resume.
To their credit, the Flyers are desperately trying to find one. Or, more precisely, develop one.
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Since 2012, they have used seven draft picks, including three in 2015 alone, on a goalie, and signed another as an undrafted free agent.
Their philosophy appears to be to throw a whole bunch of them in the pot and hope one emerges with the goods. With some of the players already making their NHL debut or climbing the ladder up the minor leagues, the front office is starting to get a clearer picture of each one.
Here is our status report and the projections for 2018-19 of the current Flyers goalies and top prospects.
The Flyers No. 1 goalie this year, Elliott finished 23-11-7 with a 2.66 goals against average and .909 save percentage. A core muscle injury, which required surgery, sidelined Elliott for the last two months of the season and lingered into the playoffs. Signed through next year, he provides a dependable veteran between the pipes until one of the kids is ready.
Projection: Flyers No. 1 goalie.
As usual, Neuvirth showed flashes of brilliance. As usual, he showed he can’t stay healthy. He played in only 22 regular season games and two playoff games.
Projection: The Flyers will trade or buy him out.
Acquired from the Red Wings after injuries to Elliott and Neuvirth, the veteran was inconsistent and went 6-6-3 with a 3.22 GAA and .891 save percentage.
Projection: The team has said it will not re-sign the unrestricted free agent.
Alex Lyon (signed as minor league free agent)
Due to injuries to Neuvirth and Elliott, Lyon saw his first NHL action and didn’t disappoint. Dubbed the Lyon King by captain Claude Giroux, he went 4-2-1 with the Flyers and should be in their immediate future. To further help his cause, Lyon made an eye-popping 94 saves during the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2-1 playoff victory last week that ended after five overtimes.
Projection: The Flyers will re-sign the restricted free agent and he will back up Elliott.
Carter Hart (third-round pick in 2016)
Often hailed and projected as the team’s future No. 1, Hart was named the Western Hockey League’s best goalie for a record third-straight season. He posted a miniscule 1.60 goals-against average and whopping .947 save percentage this year with the Everett Silvertips. The 19 year old will begin next season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and with another dominating season could find himself in a Flyers jersey before the end of the year.
Projection: Phantoms No. 1 goalie
Felix Sandstrom (third-round pick in 2015)
Injuries limited the 21 year old to just 22 starts last year in the Swedish Hockey League. He is ranked No. 2 on the rookie depth chart behind Hart.
Projection: Another year in Sweden.
Anthony Stolarz (second round pick in 2012)
After a strong NHL debut in the 2016-17 season, a string of knee injuries have kept him out of action the entire year this season.
Projection: The Flyers will likely not re-sign the restricted free agent.