By now, most of you probably understand the logjam the Flyers have at the goaltender position. If not, you’ve likely been living under those logs.
To complicate matters even worse, the Flyers claimed goalie Calvin Pickard back on October 2nd.
Three NHL goaltenders, three AHL goaltenders, not counting Felix Sandstrom, and the Flyers even got rid of one of their goaltenders last year. Merrick Madsen, the Harvard goaltender the Flyers drafted 162nd overall in the 6th round of the 2013 draft, was traded to Arizona back in June of 2017 with embattled forward prospect Nick Cousins for a 5th round selection and University of Michigan forward Brendan Warren.
At the time, most shrugged off the trade as another move to pick up a prospect or two that would develop along the same timeline as the prospects Ron Hextall had already stockpiled in the Flyers system. Cousins seemed to be the odd man out with the development of Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny, and Madsen was about to get lost in the everlasting shuffle that is the Flyers crease.
He may have gotten lost in the Flyers shuffle, but he’s hit his stride with the Arizona Coyotes organization.
While backstopping Harvard, Madsen showed much promise, posting three seasons in a row of 24 wins or more, and never having a save percentage below .918. His best season was the 2016-17 season, which saw Madsen play 36 games, go 28-6-2, and allow 2.11 goals against average. Madsen seemed primed for a run at the AHL level.
With the emergence of Alex Lyon, and the timeliness of Carter Hart joining the professional ranks, Madsen found himself on the short end of the goalie stick, and ended up being shipped to the Coyotes. Since joining Arizona’s organization, he made his professional debut this year, going 2-0-0 with the Norfolk Admirals, posting a .985 save percentage, and allowing only one goal in the 2 outings.
Madsen joined the Coyotes AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners, and has hit the ground at a full sprint.
Merrick has played in four games, allowed four goals, and posts a record of 3-0-0 and a save percentage of .946. He has been stellar for the Roadrunners, which begs the question, did the Flyers give up on Madsen too early?
It’s a tough question, because prospects are so hard to judge. Could Merrick Madsen have been a successful goalie within the Flyers organization? Absolutely. Would he have found ice time with such highly touted netminders such as Carter Hart and Alex Lyon? Maybe not.
The Flyers simply had too many goaltenders in the fold to keep Madsen around. Even without Felix Sandstrom, the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, have three goaltenders in Carter Hart, Alex Lyon, and Anthony Stolarz. If Stolarz can’t even find the ice with Hart and Lyon ahead of him, it’s hard to anticipate that Madsen would have as well.
It’s a case of sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing. The Flyers had too many net minders, and Madsen found himself as the odd man out when it came time to make a move.
With that move, came a fifth round selection which turned into defenseman Wyatt Wylie. Wylie is on fire this year with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL, posting 20 points in 21 games as a blue liner. Wylie’s offensive potential is something that is coveted at the professional level, so having another offensive defenseman in the system surely helps the club.
Brendan Warren doesn’t post stellar numbers, but has the potential to be a quality depth forward that can contribute in a bottom six role for the club.
Nick Cousins, the other chip that went to Arizona, seemed to be expendable with the emergence of Scott Laughton and the acquisition of Jordan Weal.
With this trade, the Flyers cleared up the situation in net (sort of), and got a mid round draft pick and chose an offensively gifted kid in Wylie. The Flyers may have given up on Madsen, but they seemingly had no choice.
If you factor in the prospect of Anthony Stolarz returning to form, Alex Lyon duplicating his 2017-18 AHL playoff performance, and Carter Hart turning into the franchise goalie fans want him to be, Madsen just didn’t fit into the equation with the Flyers.
Likely by no fault of his own, Madsen found himself as the outsider looking in when it came to the Flyers goaltender situation, and he happened to get traded to a place where he has a much better chance of succeeding and turning into a solid choice in net for the Coyotes down the line. Maybe the Flyers miss out on what could have been, but nobody knows what Madsen will be just yet, and Hextall seemed content with his options in net up to this point.
Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports