The Philadelphia Flyers have signed former third-round pick and goalie prospect, Kirill Ustimenko, to his three-year, entry-level contract.
The 20-year-old netminder spent most of the 2018-19 season playing in the MHL for MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg. In 46 games, Ustimenko posted a 1.78 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. This was his second-straight season in the MHL with completely jaw-dropping numbers.
Now that Ustimenko is signed with Philadelphia, the expectation is that he will come play in North America. However, there is a little uncertainty about which league he will play in. With Felix Sandstrom playing in Lehigh Valley next season and Alex Lyon still under contract, there will be a slight goalie logjam in the minor leagues.
There is a possibility that Ustimenko begins next season in the ECHL with the Reading Royals. This, of course, would be more than fine. However, I am personally against it. There is a train of thought that Lyon should be the starter for the Phantoms next year because of his experience, and Sandstrom should serve as his back-up. To me, the AHL is a developmental league and I would much rather see the younger netminders get most of the starts. This means Sandstrom and Ustimenko should receive the “lion’s share” of the starts in Lehigh Valley next season. The Phantoms can then just give Lyon enough games to keep him fresh just in case he needs to fill in for the Flyers at some point.
Regardless of where Ustimenko begins next season, he will certainly end up in Lehigh Valley before the year is over. He is another skilled and intriguing goalie prospect within the Flyer farm system and he will be a joy to watch.
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