With recent reports surfacing that the Flyers are talking to teams about acquiring another goalie, has the Flyers future goalie plans changed again?
On March 1st of last season, the Flyers made a move that signaled a clear vision to the future, signing Michal Neuvirth to a two-year extension. A move that made it clear that it was time for Anthony Stolarz to prove if he could be a NHL goalie.
Why, you say?
Well, if the Flyers had no faith in Stolarz who was knocking on the door of the NHL all of last season, why sign a career backup goalie instead of a starter?
If the Flyers re-signed Steve Mason, it would have shown that the Flyers wanted a starter to pair with Stolarz, revealing that he wasn’t ready in their eyes. By signing Neuvirth, it showed the Flyers were well prepared to give the starting role to Stolarz at some point this season.
Mason is a proven starter. In Mason’s 9 year NHL career, he has started more than 30 games in a season 8 times. His only exception? 2013, the year he lost his job to former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky and also the season he became a Flyer.
Neuvirth, during his time in Philadelphia, was the clear backup behind Steve Mason. In Neuvirth’s 9 year NHL career, he has only started more than 30 games in a season twice…neither of which was with the Flyers.
Fast-forward one month, Stolarz suffers a bad season-ending knee injury. He has immediate knee surgery and isout for 4-6 months, throwing a wrench into next season’s plans.
Instead of signing another NHL backup goalie, one who would be willing to go to the AHL, they sign a proven NHL starter. On July 1st, The Flyers sign Brian Elliott to a team friendly 2-year $5 million dollar contract. A move that signaled Neuvirth was re-signed to give the reins to Anthony Stolarz at some point during the season.
Fast-forward once again. Now, two months into the season, Neuvirth is hurt again. The 32-year old starter has played in 22 of the teams 29 games and GM Ron Hextall is fed up.
With recent reports surfacing, Hextall is now trying to re-do his whole goalie plan over again. If true, Hextall is setting up next season to be the last season the Flyers will need a goalie.
Reports are saying that Hextall is looking for another backup on an expiring contract to finish out the season. Thus setting up next season as a tandem of Elliott and Stolarz. With that tandem, the Flyers will get to see what they have in Stolarz, likely playing in more games than the 33 year old Elliott.
Therefore, after the 2018-2019, with Elliott’s contract up, the Flyers could set themselves up for a 2019-2020 season tandem of Anthony Stolarz & Carter Hart.
A year many Flyers fans cannot wait to happen.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Chris Mast via Everett Silvertips