The Flyers signed Felix Sandstrom, their 2015 third-round pick, to his entry-level contract last Tuesday, and with Sandstrom inked, they now have four goalies under contract for 2018-19.
Add in the three goaltenders who are set to hit restricted free agency in late June, and Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has decisions to make in goal, at all levels, this summer.
Some are easier than others. Brian Elliott, who’s entering the final year of his contract, will be back. Carter Hart, in his first professional season, will be in Lehigh Valley.
Then there is Michal Neuvirth, who also will be in the final season of his deal. The Neuvirth decision will be the most interesting because it will be hard to bring him back next season.
Neuvirth’s health continues to be an issue. He just cannot be trusted no matter how talented he is. If Hextall wants tandems, Neuvirth isn’t a reliable partner. It might be time to move on.
Petr Mrazek joins Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz as RFAs. Since coming over from Detroit, Mrazek, 26, hasn’t done anything to secure a qualifying offer from the Flyers.
Mrazek has a 3.09 goals-against average and .893 save percentage as a Flyer. It doesn’t play into the long-term plan to qualify him at $4.15 million. It’s a safe bet he was just an emergency rental.
That brings us to Lyon and Stolarz, who both signed one-year contracts last summer, and their situations may correlate with what the Flyers do with Neuvirth.
If Neuvirth returns, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which both Lyon and Stolarz return. There won’t be enough crease for them.
But if the Flyers decide enough is enough with Neuvirth’s injuries, that opens up two spots — the NHL backup job and with the Phantoms. You have to think Lyon has more leverage than Stolarz since Stolarz missed most of this season with a significant knee injury.
Lyon has looked the part of an NHL goalie when called upon, and we can say the same about Stolarz in his limited time last year. You have to think they’ll want a shot at a backup job somewhere.
There are a lot of moving factors here. In short, Sandstrom’s contract means the Flyers retain his rights, and he’s very much in the long-term plans (see story).
Sandstrom is signed for one more season in the SHL, with HV71. In theory, the Flyers could have a Hart-Sandstrom tandem in the AHL next season, but that’s unrealistic. He's likely headed back to Sweden.
The numbers game, though, signals this summer will be fascinating when it comes to goalie decisions. While Sandstrom may not be a direct benefit, his contract makes things interesting.
As they say, it’s always goaltending in Philadelphia.
• Another injury for Philippe Myers, who was hurt in practice last week and seen in the press box in a walking boot, according to Jamey Baskow. Samuel Morin is skating on his own.
• Morgan Frost had five assists and seven points as Sault Ste. Marie swept Saginaw in the OHL Playoffs.
• Matthew Strome had a monster first-round series for Hamilton with eight assists and 10 points.
• Isaac Ratcliffe had five goals and nine points in six playoff games.
• Hart had a 1.97 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage as Everett eliminated Seattle in five games. Hart pitched a shutout in Game 5 on Saturday night.