Flyers Need a Veteran Backup Goaltender in 2020-2021

There is no question that the Philadelphia Flyers have been especially dominant at home. If the Flyers played every game at home, Carter Hart would be up for the Vezina Award at the end of this season. That isn’t the case and is the thesis for such a stark contrast behind his success at home versus on the road. Just before the NHL suspended play due to COVID19, Hart began to turn a corner versus road opponents. However, Brian Elliott has been the better of the two goaltenders on away ice.

At the end of the 2019-2020 season, Brian Elliott will become an unrestricted free-agent with Alex Lyon. If Elliott and Lyon don’t resign back with the Philadelphia Flyers, the goaltenders in the Flyers system will be Carter Hart, Kirill Ustimenko, and Felix Sandstrom. I believe that if Philadelphia signs a goaltender to an entry-level contract, perhaps Ivan Fedotov, that puts the writing on the wall for Alex Lyon. The Flyers should try to retain Elliott after his 2019-2020 success on the road.

Brian Elliott has been more well-rounded this season. He maintains a 50% winning percentage at home and a 52.1% winning percentage on the road. It’s important to have a goaltender who is strong on the road, especially when your starter struggles. As mentioned, Carter Hart has been special at home with an 80% winning percentage, but weak on away ice with a 22.2% winning percentage. It’s why the Philadelphia Flyers need to invest in an NHL veteran goaltender who thrives on the road.

A short contract with a veteran NHL goaltender would be ideal for 2020-2021. Up to a two-year deal at most. Brian Elliott is 34-years old and is just under two weeks away from his 35th birthday. Robin Lehner, a goaltender who I pointed out before the start of the 2019-2020 season, is 29-years old but earns $3mil more than Elliott. The main factor in obtaining a veteran NHL goaltender would be to keep the price around the $2mil price tag that Elliott receives.

If the Philadelphia Flyers are unable to sign Brian Elliott back to a short extension, a goaltender that makes sense could be Aaron Dell of the San Jose Sharks. He has a price tag of $1.9mil and has a 50% winning percentage on the road. The only other goaltender younger than Elliott is Mike Condon, who has been rehabbing from an injury and playing in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch in 2019-2020. For the price tag and quality, the Philadelphia Flyers need to offer Elliott an extension. He still is the best goaltender on the road when the goal is to stay with what works or improve and get younger.

Next season presents a big challenge to Carter Hart. As great as he has been at the Wells Fargo Center, Hart needs to take that next step towards being a complete NHL goaltender. The Philadelphia Flyers need to keep a strong one-two punch between the pipes. Elliott has the hourglass turned on his tenure with the Flyers. If he comes back after this season, it’s only for a limited time before a call is made to check in on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Mandatory Credit – © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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