When it comes to goaltending in Philadelphia, the conversation typically starts and stops with the name Carter Hart. This is understandable. After years of goalie woes, Hart is finally making goalie a strength for the Flyers. Although Hart is Philadelphia’s starting netminder for the foreseeable future, he’s not the only promising player between the pipes in the Flyers system. Swedish goalie, Felix Sandstrom, is entering his first season in North America with aspirations of backing up Hart sooner than later.
Philadelphia drafted Felix Sandstrom in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Surprisingly, he wasn’t the only netminder taken by the Flyers in that draft. The Flyer selected Matej Tomek later on that round and Ivan Fedotov in the seventh round. It was a slightly bizarre draft strategy by Ron Hextall and Sandstrom became the only goalie of the three worth discussing.
To this point, Sandstrom has tended goal in Sweden, most recently for HV71 of the SHL. His numbers this year didn’t jump off the page but were solid. In 19 games, Sandstrom posted a 2.16 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
At age 22, the time for the next step of Sandstrom’s development is now. Next season, he will make his way to North America and tend goal for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Sandstrom’s future with the Flyers organization. Not in terms of being traded this offseason, but in terms of his fit down the road. With Carter Hart as the team’s starter, Sandstrom’s ceiling with the organization stops at NHL backup. For now, that is what he is aspiring towards.
Chuck Fletcher has made it clear that he is in the market for a veteran goalie to backup Hart next season. Of course, this will result in Sandstrom playing for the Phantoms for the entirety of next season. This should be the case, as rushing Sandstrom into the NHL would not be smart.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that Felix Sandstrom is given the opportunity to earn the backup role as early as 2020-21. Again, it all depends on the progress he makes in Lehigh Valley. Fletcher is not going to rush any other goalie prospects through the system. It’s just not necessary.
Though Sandstrom’s ceiling in Philadelphia will end with a backup role, it is very possible that he becomes a legitimate starter-caliber goalie. Of course, serving as a starter will take place for another organization.
Mandatory Credit: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP
John Gove covers prospects within the Philadelphia Flyers farm system for Philly Sports Network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnPGove.