Finally, from the Heavens, the Flyers have a Number One Goaltender in Carter Hart. When was the last time the orange and black knew who their starting Goaltender would be heading into the draft? “Finally it has happened to me right in front of my face, My feelings can’t describe it,” I’m literally singing this old hit song by CeCe Peniston right now. Although, one question still remains…who will be the backup Goaltender to Hart next season?
“We would like a veteran defenseman, more scoring forwards, and a goalie for Hart,” Fletcher stated at the exit interviews. “We will be active to improve the team. Everyone is tradeable. A lot of reasons we fall behind in games is because we give up easy goals. It’s not about effort. It’s about thinking, about working smart and playing better.”
This is literally the blueprint of the Flyers off-season right here before our eyes. Without further delay, here are 5 possible backups to Hart.
It appears Smith is a journeyman Goaltender and one that would be a solid Veteran backup to Hart. Smith has spent the past 2 seasons with the Calgary Flames, played 2 years with the Dallas Stars, 4 years with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and 3 years with the Arizona Coyotes. His best season was in 2011-12 when he finished 4th in the Vezina Trophy voting race, after compiling a 2.21 GAA, to go along with a .930 Save Percentage.
For the 2018-19 season, Smith had a record of 23-16-2, registered a 2.72 GAA, and finished with a .898 Save Percentage. His years may have caught up to him to be a starter in the NHL, however, at 37-years-old Smith can still be a valuable backup.
Miller used to remind me of Dominik Hasek, especially with the way he would flash a glove, or make sprawling save after sprawling save. He was a very good Goaltender when he was in his prime with the Buffalo Sabres, much like Hasek was for the Sabres. Injuries and standing at now 38 years (39-years-old when the 2019-20 season begins) have taken a toll on Miller. However, he would be an instrumental backup to Hart, and one that can aide this young man in Hart to stardom. Miller’s Veteran presence could rub off in Hart in a positive way.
For the 2018-19 season, Miller had a record of 8-7-2, with a 2.76 GAA, and finished with a .912 Save Percentage. When healthy Miller can fill in nicely, as he did for an injured John Gibson this past season. If Miller continues to play the game of hockey, he will be a nice backup for a team that needs a Veteran Netminder.
Niemi is a Goaltender that Flyers fans know all too well. He won a Stanley Cup as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 against the Flyers, I mean geez Louise it still stings today. Last season for the Montreal Canadiens, he posted an 8-6-2 record, 3.78 GAA, with a .887 Save Percentage. If all else fails, Niemi can provide some big minutes for the orange and black, as well as, provide Cup experience.
Talbot came to the Flyers in a trade for young promising netminder Anthony Stolarz on February 16, 2019. He only played in 4 games for the orange and black from the time he was traded from the Edmonton Oilers. It was a weird situation, to say the least. Talbot was not afforded an extended look to see how he would perform in a Flyers sweater, with a possibility at re-signing him in the off-season.
In any sense, Talbot is a mentor to Hart, as the pair have worked out together in the off-season. They have become friends, and if Hart would be happy with Talbot backing him up, then it may be a win-win to re-sign Talbot. Moreover, at the moment Talbot seems like the likeliest candidate to backup Hart, especially if he is willing to be signed to a two-year $4 million deal.
McElhinney had a really good year for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2018-19. He appeared in 33 games and posted a 20-11-2 record, a 2.58 GAA, and a .912 Save Percentage. At 36 years-old, McElhinney would be a quality backup netminder to Hart. He has seen just about everything in his NHL career, and he could come to the orange and black for a cheap price. McElhinney made just $850,000 last season as a member of the Hurricanes.
All in all, Fletcher has some backup Goaltending options asides from Talbot. Talbot at the moment seems like the likeliest candidate to backup Hart, however it should happen for the right price. This Flyers off-season is ramping up to be a fun roller coaster ride, so buckle yourselves in for the ride folks.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Jamey Baskow, 34, Flyers Guru, Sports Enthuiast
Follow me on Twitter@JameyBaskow