Going End to End today is NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.
The topic: Will Carter Hart need a full season in the AHL?
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall kept the door open, however slightest, at his end-of-season news conference for Hart to earn a spot with the big club in training camp. Knowing Hextall's past, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Hart breaks camp with the Flyers, but the 19-year-old is a special breed years beyond his age.
Hart closed the book on his junior career Saturday with his second CHL Goaltender of the Year award in three years, becoming the first goalie to win it twice (see story).
On paper, the Flyers have Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth under contract for 2018-19. Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz are restricted free agents, and one figures to move on from the organization this summer. My bet is on Lyon coming back and having first dibs at the NHL backup job if injuries hit the Flyers' crease.
But it's hard for me to sit here and say Hart has no shot at being in the NHL next year. I think he's going to do everything he can this offseason to push for a job, and I think if he's ready for one, he'll be here.
Do I think he needs a full season in the AHL? Probably not. If I were to bet, I'd put my money on him being with the Phantoms in October. But I've lost plenty of bets in my life. I think we'll see him with the Flyers at some point in 2018-19.
It's just a matter of when.
A full year in the AHL would be wise for Hart — and all signs point to that happening.
Last week, I asked Everett general manager Garry Davidson if he could tell Flyers fans one thing about Hart, what would it be?
Here was his response:
"I think they still have to be a little patient. He's just a 19-year-old, he's just played major junior, he's been very successful. But the jump from where we are to the pro game — whether it's either in the American league and then at the NHL level — is a substantial jump. He's going to need some time and I don't know how much time that will be, but we use the word here all the time — you've got to have patience."
That certainly jives with Hextall's approach to prospects. The Flyers have confidence in their current tandem, featuring two goalies in the final year of their respective contracts. And it seems Lyon, a restricted free agent this offseason, has earned himself a contract and the status of backup in case of an injury.
Hart very well could be the future and the Flyers won't mess with it.