The Philadelphia Flyers and a tale of two backup Goalies


Until mid-season, the Flyers have been riddled with questions surrounding the crease. Who’s the next guy up? Will this carousel of mediocrity in net ever end? Will we ever have a franchise netminder?

Those questions have been answered. With the arrival of Carter Hart, fans and management alike aren’t asking those questions about their starting goalie anymore.

Now, they’re asking them about his backup.

With Michal Neuvirth never coming back from injury, it looks like he won’t be coming back to the Flyers either. Brian Elliott and Cam Talbot look to be the two candidates to back up Carter Hart entering the 2019-20 season. With only one spot available, who should it be?

Fans will likely argue that Cam Talbot should be the answer behind Hart. Chuck Fletcher acquired Talbot for Anthony Stolarz straight up in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers earlier this season. However, Talbot has been used sparingly, making it hard to get a good look at what he brings to the table for the ailing Flyers.

Since joining the Flyers, he has only appeared in 4 games, saving 96 out of 109 shots for a .881 save percentage. People will argue the defense is to blame for a majority of his blunders, but let’s be honest, Edmonton’s defense isn’t much better.

With the Oilers, Talbot had a .893 save percentage, one of the worst among starting goalies in the NHL. Put those two together, and he’s at a .892 save percentage on the year.

Brian Elliott, on the other hand, had a monster few games after coming back from injury. After posting a .911 save percentage in 14 appearances before his injury, he came back and stopped 190 of 203 shots in his first six games back. That equals out to a .936 save percentage.

Since then, he’s been less inspiring. Altogether in his 11 appearances since returning from injury, he has 321 saves on 361 shots for a .889 save percentage.

Looking at Talbot and Elliott side by side, the numbers just aren’t thrilling. However, if it came down to it, and Chuck Fletcher had to choose one or the other to back up Carter Hart next season, Brian Elliott would be the right guy for the job.

If you look at Talbot’s career numbers, they have been steadily on the decline for the past few years. This isn’t to say that he can’t rebound, but unless he takes a massive pay cut from his current $4.2 million dollar contract, he won’t find himself donning the orange and black next season.

Brian Elliott, however, comes at half the price currently, and may even come for less next year if the Flyers decide to re-sign him. He’s shown that in small spurts, he can be very effective. Hart will likely start a majority of the games, so when Elliott needs to plug in, he will be fresh and likely won’t need to bear the load that has been expected of him over the past 2 seasons.

Going out and getting Talbot made sense at the time. A fresh start can do a guy good, and his relationship with Carter Hart was a big positive as well. However, it now seems unnecessary considering the lack of playing time he has gotten, and the fact that he may not be back next year as well.

 Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports