In the 2019-20 season, Brian Elliott worked well with Carter Hart, serving as a dependable backup to the 22-year-old and being a quality source of mentorship.
Hart is one of the Flyers' most vital pieces to the organization's future. We're talking the next decade and possibly more than that, so the support around Hart as he continues to grow is highly valued.
The fact that Elliott has been such a positive influence in multiple facets for Hart could go a long way in the prospects of his return to the Flyers for the 2020-21 season.
"Me and Moose, we get along really well," Hart said Wednesday in his end-of-the-season video interview. "I love playing with him, he has been a great mentor to me, he’s obviously a veteran goalie in the NHL and has got a lot of experience. He’s taught me a lot, we have a lot of fun playing together, I love playing alongside him.
"I really hope he’s back and I think he definitely wants to come back, as well. I love playing alongside of him, we have a great relationship, we have a lot of fun together and he’s taught me so many things. I’m very grateful to have played alongside him this year and I hope for next year, as well."
Will that relationship, though, be enough for both the Flyers and Elliott to agree on a new deal?
Elliott, 35, can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. If Elliott is not re-signed by the Flyers, the club will have to address its backup netminder situation either internally or externally.
At his age and coming off a solid, productive season in which he stayed healthy, Elliott very well could be looking for a two-year deal. At this stage of his career, job security and staying put are attractive.
How badly will Elliott want two years? Could he get two years elsewhere? Are the Flyers willing to commit two years?
Those are three big questions to the Elliott equation.
It does not look like the Flyers are ready to turn to an in-house option as their backup goalie. Prospects Kirill Ustimenko and Felix Sandstrom combined for six AHL games last season, while 27-year-old Phantoms starter Alex Lyon has only 16 career games of NHL experience and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
During 2019-20, Elliott went 16-7-4 with a 2.87 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 31 games (27 starts). Elliott missed a 40-game stretch in 2018-19 because of a lower-body injury and a chunk of time in 2017-18 following core muscle surgery that he underwent in February of that season.
Elliott has been durable throughout his 13-year NHL career, but those injuries in the hip region and the veteran goalie's age will factor into the Flyers' thought process. What will also factor into the decision is the club's familiarity with Elliott, his track record of success in a tandem as well as his familiarity with the organization and situation in the Flyers' net. For the Flyers, bringing in an outside, veteran option might not be as appealing as bringing back Elliott.
Last offseason, Elliott re-signed with the Flyers on a one-year, $2 million deal.
What will he be eyeing this offseason? It will play a role in the Flyers' important role behind Hart.