Sandström, Flyers prospects to contend for backup role

Flyers' Felix Sandstrom
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 25: Philadelphia Flyers Goalie Felix Sandstrom (32) stands in the crease during a NHL game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks on April 25, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Chris Kohley/Icon Sportswire)

Carter Hart is the current, and future starting goaltender in Philadelphia. Questions and concerns about the Flyers needing a starting netminder aren’t necessary. While Hart didn’t have the greatest season stats-wise in 2021-2022, which was mainly due to a defense that played poorly in front of him, he did bounce back from 2020-2021.

During his inaugural press conference after being hired as the 23rd coach in franchise history, John Tortorella spoke highly of Hart and also mentioned that he needs support.

“I think we need to give Carter a little bit more support as far as how we play around him, allow him to really get himself into the National Hockey League.”

John Tortorella; 6/17/2022

Hart will turn 24 when the 2022-2023 season begins. The Flyers know their starting goaltender. Who will have Hart’s back?

Goaltending Depth

Former general manager, Ron Hextall, has been criticized regarding some of the draft selections he made while at the helm of Flyers management. However, one position that he did strengthen was goaltending.

Minus Carter Hart, there are three goaltenders in the Flyers’ system that are both 25 years of age or younger and signed to a contract: Felix Sandström (25), Ivan Fedotov (25), and Samuel Ersson (22). These goaltenders are all Hextall selections.

With the recent contract extension for Sandström and the entry-level signing of Fedotov, it is likely that Martin Jones will not be resigned to backup Hart next season.

Jones played well given the circumstances. He kept the Flyers in games as much as he could and played a strong role when Hart was shut down for the final few weeks due to injury.

Jones is also 32 years old and with the young goaltending talent in the system, it appears to be time to let a younger player compete for the backup role.

The case for Felix Sandström

Felix Sandström saw time between the pipes for the Flyers last season. He started five games and had a record of 0-4-1. Although he didn’t collect a win, he did show improvement every game and never doubted himself mentally. His mental toughness and accountability to improve show maturity.

Sandström made his Flyers debut on December 30th against the San Jose Sharks. He saved 43 of 46 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss. Sandström received praise from his teammates following the game, finishing with a 91%SV and a 3.15GAA in his five games.

Sandström is the only one with games played in the NHL, which could boost his chances to secure the backup role.

The case for Ivan Fedotov

Ivan Fedotov has gained lots of excitement from the Flyers fanbase during the past few months. Fedotov was a stud for CSKA Moscow in the KHL during the 2021-2022 season. During the Gagarin Cup playoffs, Fedotov posted a 16-6 record, 93.7%SV, and a 1.87GAA while leading his team to the championship. Fedotov was also named the KHL goalie of the year.

He was the starter for Russia’s Olympic team where he posted a 4-2 record, .942 SV%, and a 1.61 GAA while claiming a silver medal.

What also makes Fedotov an exciting candidate is his 6-foot-7, 205lbs body frame. His large size allows him to cover most of the net and makes him look intimidating.

What could pose a challenge to Fedotov is that he’s never played in North America, only in Russia. Adjusting to the change of pace, rink size, and the shot angles that come with it could be an obstacle.

The case for Samuel Ersson

Samuel Ersson is a reach for the backup spot, but he should still be in consideration. Ersson went 0-3-1 in five games played with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this year. His 89.3%SV and 2.96GAA in those five games isn’t fantastic, but he has limited playing experience in North America.

Ersson has posted impressive stats in the SHL and Sweden, but more playing time in the minors would be the right decision to polish his game.

Training Camp 2022

In training camp, Tortorella will find his backup goaltender. Sandström, Fedotov, and Ersson are all viable candidates for the job and none should be underestimated. How they perform in camp and in preseason games will give management the decision of who’s ready to jump into the NHL, or who needs more development.

(Photo by Chris Kohley/Icon Sportswire)