With the NHL draft now in the rearview mirror, the Flyers' focus is on free agency, when nothing is certain.
One thing that is certain is that Brian Elliott will once again be back with the Flyers, both as a backup goaltender and a mentor to franchise goalie Carter Hart. Elliott recently inked a new deal in which he took a pay cut to stay, and Elliott said it’s all about the situation.
“I think we have a good setup, our team, I believe in what’s going on," Elliott said in a video interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Taryn Hatcher. "We were one game away from Eastern Conference Final; I want to win.”
Elliott has been a starter for multiple teams in this league (including the Flyers), he’s battled some injuries and now his main role is to continue to provide veteran leadership, especially when it comes to Hart, who just recently finished his first NHL playoffs. The Flyers do count on Elliott on the ice, as well, and overall Elliott said he has taken his role with the team and run with it.
“I played 31 games this year, that’s a good amount," Elliott said. "I think we definitely push each other — he makes me want to be better, to be out there, and I do the same for him. We definitely support each other.”
Speaking of support, there’s no greater support to a goaltender than his defensemen in front of him, and the Flyers are now forced to fill a big void on their top defensive pair with the retirement of veteran Matt Niskanen, a move that Elliott did not see coming.
“It took me by surprise.” Elliott said. “He kind of just texted the group chat and said his feelings.”
Elliott did say that the time at home during the NHL pause earlier this season, as well as time spent isolated in the Toronto bubble during the playoffs, could cause anyone to reexamine their priorities when it comes to family life. As far as the Flyers are concerned going forward, Niskanen’s absence will be felt throughout the team, and the veteran goaltender said that’s not easy to replace.
“It’s tough for us, we know what we want to achieve,” Elliott said. "Hopefully we’ll have guys step in and take on that role and run with it.
“As far as me and Carter on the back end, you can always rely on a guy like that, so definitely want to build that from within, and maybe Chuck has something up his sleeve, too.”
Your move, Chuck Fletcher. Free agency begins Friday at noon ET.