Before 2020-2021, Brian Elliott signed a one-year, $1.5mil veteran deal to backup Carter Hart once again. Now, Elliott has made it clear he expects to play in 2021-2022. Will the Philadelphia Flyers extend his contract?
Elliott finished with a winning record between the pipes. Of the veteran goaltenders who are unrestricted free agents in 2021, he’s one of the best available. If the Flyers want to keep a veteran presence to help Hart, then another one-year contract is worth the investment for Elliott.
The most formidable teams have a backup goaltender under or around 30-years-old on the roster. In the interest of longevity, Philadelphia should explore that market.
All season long, the Flyers failed to win against young backup goaltenders. Crucial losses to the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins piled up, keeping Philadelphia away from the playoffs. Hart has to bounce back to confirm he’s the franchise goaltender. If he hadn’t struggled in 2020-2021, the Flyers could find comfort in a veteran backup. Currently, the better move would be a starting rotation with Hart extending on a bridge deal.
If not Brian Elliott, who is the best option to back up Hart?
He just turned 27-years-old, which offers longevity in a one-two punch strategy.
The Florida Panthers have a deep goaltending roster. Sergei Bobrovsky was effective as their starting goaltender, and Chris Driedger suited the backup role perfectly. Bobrovsky has a no-movement clause in his contract, occupying the goaltender protection slot.
Florida has the luxury to keep Spencer Knight and release Driedger this offseason. Knight was undefeated during the regular season. The Panthers do not lose any depth by letting Driedger test free agency. If he tests the market, the Philadelphia Flyers need to consider him an option.
Elliott played well enough to earn another season with the Flyers as a backup. Driedger offers the same consistent quality.
In 2020-2021, Driedger saved more than 90% of the shots he faced while allowing one goal fewer on average than Elliott. He also notched one more shutout. More than half of Driedger’s starts were quality, unlike Elliott. Immediately, a move on from Elliott makes sense. Driedger would be the best option.
There are two unrestricted free agents the Philadelphia Flyers should consider outside of their system. If Chris Driedger doesn’t sign with the Flyers, then Chuck Fletcher should consider Jonas Johansson.
Johansson was winless with the Buffalo Sabres, but that changed after he went to the Colorado Avalanche. His recovery could earn him another contract in 2021-2022. From starting 0-5-1 to finishing 5-6-2, Johansson may have opened some eyes around the league. Did Fletcher catch on?
Next season, Johansson will be 26-years-old. With defensive help, he’s a superb young option to rotate with Carter Hart. However, the way Philadelphia addresses their defense will correlate to Johansson’s value. If the incorrect defenseman fills in next to Ivan Provorov, then Johansson is left out to dry. Fletcher has to make the correct defensive decisions to help his goaltenders.
The Avalanche is a vastly superior defensive team in comparison to the Sabres. It’s no wonder Johansson thrived. There is a high risk involved in signing Johansson if you consider the state of the Flyers defense. More than Colorado has in letting him test free agency.