It’s a question every Philadelphia Flyers fan has asked since General Manager Ron Hextall was in goal in the 80’s and 90’s. When will the Flyers ever get the stability in goal they need to compete long term? They finally may have turned the corner with some smart draft picks. They already have Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon in the AHL, and Felix Sandstrom who was named top goalie at the World Junior Championships. But the best of all of them could be Carter Hart.
Hart was drafted with the 48th pick in the second round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He was Canada’s starting goalie in the World Junior Championships and is currently one of the top goalies in the Western Hockey League. His numbers are simply sparkling. His goals against currently sits at 1.99 per game and his save percentage at .927. And with a superb record of 28-9-2, its no wonder why he may be the future in net for the Flyers.
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button glows when he speaks about Hart. “Everything you want in a goalie, he possesses.” Button said. “He’s exceptionally smart, he’s exceptionally poised. He reads the play so well. Great lateral ability. I think he’s outstanding and he’s an outstanding young man, too.”
Despite being a bit smaller than the average NHL goalie, Hart is 6’2″, Button does not believe that will affect Hart in the future. “I can’t tell you how many teams talked about how good his game is, but said he’s only 6-1. Oh, OK. I say, ‘who cares?”
Button said Hart is the best goalie from the 2016 draft class. Button’s final overall draft rankings had Hart at #24. So with the Flyers stealing him at #48, the Flyers may have a jewel, and a future number one goalie.
Prior to the 2015-16 season, the Flyers had just drafted a defenseman who many thought was ready for the NHL at only 18. Media and fans thought Ivan Provorov should have been in the Flyers opening night line up. Instead, Hextall challenged Provorov to go back to junior hockey for one more season and be the best defenseman in junior hockey..and he delivered. As a result, he is now the Flyers top defenseman.
Hextall did the same to Hart. He told Hart to be the top goalie in Junior Hockey again and take his game to a higher level. Judging by the numbers and the way Hart has played this season, the message was certainly received. For the first time in a long time, the Flyers goalie situation looks not only promising, but it looks to be flourishing.
Mandatory Photo credit: Chris Mast via AP Images