Exploring Candidates to Tandem With Flyers’ Carter Hart

The Philadelphia Flyers nabbed Ryan Ellis and are in the hunt for Vladimir Tarasenko. Who will the Flyers make the backup goaltender?

The calm before the storm happened when the Philadelphia Flyers sent Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Ryan Ellis. Per Anthony SanFilippo, he believes the Flyers could participate in another three-team deal for Vladimir Tarasenko. Before all of that, Philadelphia has another glaring hole to fill.

Yesterday, I provided cheaper crisis plans for each exposed player on the Flyers roster. Now, goaltending needs some tender loving care.

Since the trade for Ellis, Philadephia has $9.3mil of remaining cap space. With that space, Travis Sanheim and Carter Hart need extensions. Excluding anything that potentially has to do with Tarasenko, the Flyers could have anywhere between $3.3-2.3mil available. If the rumor is correct, alleviating Jakub Voracek and Robert Hagg for Tarasenko, cap space increases to around $5.7-$4.7mil. Philadephia can afford a reliable rotational goaltender to Hart, but they must play it smart.

There are many different avenues the Flyers can explore. Free agency, unrestricted or restricted, comes with varying prices. Philadelphia has all of their draft capital, but I’ll dismiss a third-round pick due to the probability it’s involved in the rumor for Tarasenko. Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr mentioned they aren’t opposed to taking a goaltender in the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

Fletcher could continue to make trades, extend a former goaltender, or promote from the system, too.

Flyers’ Options In the Draft

There is one player who should have the attention of Brent Flahr and Chuck Fletcher. His name is Sebastian Cossa, and he could turn into a vital rotation goaltender with Carter Hart.

Cossa could be available when the Philadelphia Flyers are on the clock because Jesper Wallstedt will likely be the first goaltender off the board. It would be the first time in nine years that two goaltenders leave the board in the first round. Making this aggressive selection for Cossa is perfect for the team. The NHL has increasingly become a tandem goaltender league. Last season, Philadelphia struggled mightily against teams who could rely on multiple netminders.

Selecting a goaltender in the first round doesn’t have the urgency that Jalen Hurts brought to Carson Wentz with the Philadelphia Eagles. Cossa could be thrust into a backup role immediately if he shows he’s capable. If Fletcher goes this route, he’ll likely wait a season or two for Cossa to develop. It wouldn’t be an awful decision to make in the first round, but it wouldn’t ideally fill the backup goaltender void in 2021-2022.

The following route has a more probable approach for next season.

Goaltender Local Option

Availability Within Flyers’ Farm System

If only Ivan Fedotov would leave the KHL and join the Philadelphia Flyers. There isn’t a ton of pressure to bring Fedotov over (the Flyers own his rights indefinitely), but he would help out this process of elimination by signing with Philadelphia.

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Instead, the options from the system are Felix Sandstrom, Samuel Ersson, Alex Lyon, and Brian Elliott.

Ersson received his entry-level contract from the Flyers just over a month and a half ago. Sandstrom has yet to make an NHL debut since becoming a third-round selection in 2015. Lyon was trending in the right direction with each start last season but cannot be relied on in rotation with Hart. Elliott (36yrs) took on the starting role last season and finished with a winning record (including overtime losses.)

The metrics don’t have to be the prettiest. Backup goaltenders need to steal victories when the starter is out. Ersson has struggled to do so in the SHL, and Sandstrom could use more seasoning in the AHL.

In five starts, Lyon put up his best numbers since arriving in the NHL. His performance didn’t outclass Elliott. The veteran backup communicated his desire to continue playing. If the cap space isn’t there via a trade for Vladimir Tarasenko, it wouldn’t be a shock if Elliott received a 1yr/~1.5mil contract extension.

Goaltender Free Agency Option

Before I start, yes, Brian Elliott and Alex Lyon are technically free agents.

These options follow the projected $2.3-3.3mil range before any potential trade for Vladimir Tarasenko. Four potential suitors fall in that price range. Chuck Fletcher likely wouldn’t care for Petr Mrazek or Jaroslav Halak.

Linus Ullmark is available in free agency, but the Buffalo Sabres protected him in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Ilya Sorokin is a restricted free agent, but the New York Islanders will want to fleece the Philadelphia Flyers in that exchange.

The following options follow the projected $4.7-$5.7mil if Tarasenko becomes a Flyer in the rumored three-team trade with the Seattle Kraken and St. Louis Blues. Three different names surface. One is coming off a down season, comparable to Elliott’s season. The other two present arguments for a formidable tandem with Carter Hart with a price tag that may command more money than the starter.

Frederik Andersen is not worth the price following last season. James Reimer would be my second option of the pricier free agents. If Fletcher is going to go for it, Philipp Grubauer is the target. Coming off a great season, Grubauer wants a sturdy contract (more than Hart would receive.) Philadelphia could afford Grubauer, but only if Fletcher remains aggressive in shedding cap space for seasons to come.

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre

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