2019-20 Flyers season grades: Carter Hart

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Carter Hart

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Carter Hart.

Destra

If Hart performed on the road like the way he did at home this season, chances are, he’d be in consideration for the Vezina Trophy. That’s a tall task for the 21-year-old goaltender, but it’s clear he holds to potential to win it one day. Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably. But when was the last time we were able to hold this discussion for a Flyers goalie?

At home: 20-3-2, 1.63 GAA, .945 save percentage
On the road: 4-10-1, 3.81 GAA, .857 save percentage

It’s crazy how his home and road numbers differ, almost like it was two separate players — but for someone in just their second year in the league to have such a promising future, it makes up for it. 

If veteran goaltender Brian Elliott didn’t have such a solid season on the road, this would’ve made things much worse for the Flyers and Hart. Luckily, the combination of the two made for some of the best goaltending Philadelphia has seen in years. 

I have to split these grades into two — A+ for home Hart, C- for road Hart.

Emmer

Hart had some ups and downs this season, but mostly ups.

His maturity and mental toughness are far beyond his years as a 21-year-old. When he dealt with adversity, you saw him take responsibility for his mistakes, rarely complain and show a response the next time out. 

That maturity stood out in a different way in January when he suffered an abdominal injury. Hart pulled himself from practice — he knew the importance of his health to the team. He wasn’t trying to play through it and make it any worse than it was. Fortunately, with time and extra care, he recovered quickly. Hart being the competitor he is, that showed he was a complete team player.

The youngest active goalie in the NHL has skill beyond his years as well. His record during the regular season at the Wells Fargo Center was outstanding (20-3-2, .943 save percentage, 1.63 GAA). His record on the road wasn’t as strong, but it ended up working out in tandem with Elliott. Hart had two wins against the Bruins, one win over the Caps, three straight wins over the Rangers and recorded his first career shutout in 2019-20.

Though it wasn’t complete, his performance in his first full NHL regular season deserves an A-.

Hatcher

It’s still pretty astounding to me where Hart is already at in his career considering that just a year and a half ago, the Flyers' front office was concerned about forcing him to play at the NHL level too soon. I mean, he’s still not even 22 years old yet, so it’s completely understandable why that was a concern. But, I think those same people now have to feel that the best-case scenario has played out for Hart. 

Yes, there were some road struggles this year for Hart, and no he’s not taking home the Vezina yet. But, for a player who started his NHL career in the midst of an insane goaltending situation last year and has quickly become the team's No. 1 guy at 21 years old, he’s handled it remarkably well. 

But, let’s take a look at some numbers, shall we? Hart at 21 years old, in his first (somewhat) full NHL season, he appeared in 43 games, went 24-13-3, recorded a .914 save percentage and 2.42 goals-against average. For comparison, I decided to look up Roberto Luongo’s stats at age 21. At 21 years old, Luongo played in 47 games, went 12-24-7, had a .920 save percentage and 2.44 goals-against average. At 21 years old, Carey Price, arguably the best goaltender in the league and Hart's idol, played in 53 games, went 23-16-10 and had a .905 save percentage and 2.83 goals-against average.

With that in mind, I’m giving him an A.

Fordyce 

Hart at home this season was money in the bank. Bruins, Capitals, the fiercest teams in the league, and Hart had the answer at times facing an onslaught of shots. Interestingly enough, Hart has yet to play a “normal” season. He was brought up during the season last year, and the COVID-19 outbreak paused his second season, so we’ll have to wait to see a full season from the Flyers' franchise goaltender, which likely won’t happen next season either because of the return-to-play plan set forth by the league.

The one blip in Hart’s game is his performance on the road needs to improve slightly. Secondly, Hart at times has a tough time rebounding from a shaky start to a game. For example, if he lets in an early goal, or what would be deemed a “bad goal,” he tends to struggle for the remainder of that game sometimes. It’s clear, though, Hart is the future of the franchise, and home is where the Hart is. 

An A- for Hart.

Hall

Hart delivered the NHL's eighth-best goals-against average at 2.42, better than guys like Andrei Vasilevskiy (2.56) and Jordan Binnington (2.56). With a 24-13-3 record, he owned more victories than guys like Sergei Bobrovsky (23) and Ben Bishop (21).

All at 21 years old and in his first full NHL season. Pretty good.

Sure, he wasn't good on the road, but he was impeccable at home, so the disparity in those splits sort of balanced out.

We're going to give Hart an A- because he's already performing at such a young age in a city that has longed for goaltending.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Robert Hagg

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Robert Hagg

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Robert Hagg. 

Destra

Hagg is the type of player you always want to see succeed — mostly in part to how much his teammates respect him. In previous years, he was often the scapegoat when it came to putting blame on effort at the blue line. In the modern league, the NHL is fast paced and always looking for ways to be flashy offensively. Hagg doesn’t necessarily fit that bill, but that doesn’t mean he’s a poor player; just different.

A good game is when Hagg is nearly invisible — aside from a few hard hits — because he’s doing what he does best, holding down the fort. No. 8 led the Flyers in hits (136) and registered 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in only 49 games. More so, he’ll defend any one of his teammates by dropping the gloves if he has to, with a smile on his face, of course.

For stepping up and doing exactly what he needed to do this season, Hagg gets a B. 

Emmer

Hagg impressed a lot of fans this season — he impressed me too.

Considering how much the defensive group as a whole improved, Hagg had a lot to do with it. He was in the mix of the bottom pair all season, always trying to hold his spot in the lineup. That healthy competition brought out the best in him.

From the third tilt of the season when he recorded five blocks alone in a single game, to his highest-ever plus-14 in 49 games, Hagg’s skill, physical play and competitive style helped him take control of the sixth defenseman role.

This past regular season was one of the 25-year-old’s best in his four years in Philadelphia. 

Hagg = A.

Hatcher

Hagg was another sneaky important player for the Flyers this season. When injuries on the blue line could’ve had a real negative impact on the Flyers, Hagg was one of the guys who picked up some of the slack. He was often in a three-way competition with Philippe Myers and Shayne Gostisbehere for ice time, and he handled it like a pro.

He was able to jump right in and contribute 13 points in 49 games played, while registering an impressive plus-14 rating. Not to mention the guy eats shots. He led the team in shots blocked per 60 minutes. In limited games and limited ice time this season, he’s registered 70 blocked shots.  

He’s steady. He’s what they needed.

I give him a nice, solid B.

Fordyce 

Hagg’s season has been a little mysterious. He played just 49 of the 69 games the Flyers played and has been in and out of the lineup, much of that based on Gostisbehere’s play and/or availability. It’s hard to figure out why that is. From my perspective, Hagg plays a nice stay-at-home game, is a great hitter and smart defenseman.

What’s lacking with Hagg is the offensive threat, which may be why he was in and out of the lineup. When Gostisbehere is at his best, he puts pressure on the opposition's defense with his offensive skill. That kind of threat doesn’t really exist when it comes to Hagg. The decision between Ghost and Hagg will surely be one to watch as the NHL returns to play. To Hagg’s credit, in the 49 games he played this season he was a plus-14, which was good for third among defensemen on the Flyers behind only Myers and Matt Niskanen. 

Overall, I give Hagg a B.

Hall

Hagg was considered by many (including this reporter himself) to be the Flyers' obvious extra defenseman entering training camp and the preseason.

He ended up playing 49 of the Flyers' 69 games, finished as a plus-14 and was first on the team in blocked shots per 60 minutes with 6.20.

“He brings a lot to this team, plays the right way defensively and he’s there to block every shot he can," Kevin Hayes said in March. "We have a couple guys like that on our back end. It’s a stat that no one really cares about, but it goes a long way within this group. We know how important he is to this team. I mean, he’s a great guy, too, so it makes it that much better."

Post-Christmas, Hagg was one of the Flyers' better blueliners. Since Dec. 28, the team's first game after the holiday break, the 25-year-old Hagg notched 10 points (three goals, seven assists), led Flyers defensemen with a plus-17 mark and recorded more even strength points (nine) than Ivan Provorov (eight) and Myers (five).

Making his way into the lineup and then facing the pressure of sticking in it, Hagg deserves a strong B+ for his regular season and welcoming his role.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Derek Grant

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Derek Grant

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at a newer addition in Derek Grant. 

Destra

Grant is an interesting case to take a look at — mainly because he’s played only seven games as a Flyer so far. Although the sample size is still fairly small, it looks like he’s taken to his new team quickly, registering five points (one goal, four assists) in the short span. 

In addition to that, he had back-to-back two-point games and registered a point in three consecutive. This was the first time he had recorded points in three straight games since Dec. 11-16 in the 2017-18 season. Overall, it’s been a solid start with the Flyers, and chemistry with his new teammates will only continue to get stronger. 

B for the newcomer. 

Emmer

When Grant was acquired at the trade deadline, it was clear Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher was looking to build and improve the depth, and adding the Ducks' fourth-line center did that. 

Grant had plenty of experience in the league, including experience moving to different locker rooms. The Flyers are the seventh team he’s played for in his career and that way of knowing what it was like to quickly meet teammates and learn systems with a new club was certainly a benefit when he made the transition to the Flyers.

Grant jumped in right away, and by his third game with the orange and black, he recorded his first goal, along with an assist which from there he continued on to a three-game point streak. Grant had a small sample size to grade off of as far as his regular-season performance, but with five points in seven games along with a plus-2 rating during that span, the goal of finding players to improve the depth was achieved in this case.

Grant is an A-.

Hatcher

Grant is still a bit tough to evaluate just yet, but let’s go for it anyway. Here’s the thing: Grant graded according to what this team wants him to be, should really get an A+. He’d been with the team for all of a split second before the NHL pause. In seven games, he tallied five points on a goal and four assists. 

According to the guys I interviewed during the break, he’s made a concerted effort to keep in touch with them, and seems to genuinely have become fast friends with the entire locker room (which is impressive given how close this team is). He’s been the depth the Flyers really wanted Fletcher to bring in.

Let’s give him an A … it’s more of a midterm mark than a final grade given the small sample size. But he deserves it!

Fordyce 

My initial instinct for a player who has played only seven games for the Flyers is to give an incomplete. However, in Grant’s case, he has done enough to earn an A for me. From what we’ve seen so far, he is far exceeding expectations by earning five points in seven games, especially for a player who was projected as a bottom-six forward when coming over at the trade deadline.

Grant is a veteran in this league and has played for a plethora of teams, some of them multiple times, so his ability to fit in with a new group of guys makes him a valuable piece for a team with aspirations of a deep playoff run. 

This experience, coupled with the goal and four assists in the first seven games he has played for the Flyers, earns Grant an A from me despite the small sample size.

Hall

Grant was such a savvy, cost-effective move by Fletcher that quietly made the Flyers better.

Fletcher gave up Phantoms forward Kyle Criscuolo and a 2020 fourth-round draft pick to add Grant, who has a cap hit of only $700,000 and can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

The 30-year-old center made the Flyers tougher to play against with his 6-foot-3, 206-pound build and proved to be an underrated scorer. Grant recorded five points (one goal, four assists) through seven games, a stretch in which the Flyers went 6-1-0 prior to the season being suspended. Between his time with the Ducks and Flyers, Grant put up 15 goals and 25 points — both career highs.

Grant had the profile of a rental but he'll certainly be under consideration for the Flyers to re-sign, especially if he shows even more during the 24-team tournament.

We have to consider the small sample size in our grade, so let's go with a B+ for Grant and his difference-making seven-game audition.

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