Flyers

Felix Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie in Flyers' system

Felix Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie in Flyers' system

Felix Sandstrom stood there surrounded by a pack of reporters and cameras pointed at him after the first on-ice session of the Flyers’ development camp in Voorhees, New Jersey.

This time around, Sandstrom wasn’t the other goalie in camp, even if, in a way, he still was.

Sandstrom answered question after question about what happened in 2017-18.

Was it an abdominal injury? No, stomach issues.

Did he require surgery? He did not.

Was it even an injury? It wasn’t.

Instead, what plagued Sandstrom last season was an illness in his throat and stomach connected to the mononucleosis that he battled during his draft year in 2014-15.

“It was tough, but I learned a lot,” Sandstrom said. “You get stronger in the tougher times. I think I grew as a person. I learned a lot about myself, how I handle stuff and how I should handle stuff.”

Times have changed. During last summer’s development camp, Sandstrom sat at his stall and answered questions from a handful of reporters while the rest of the pack was with Carter Hart.

The Flyers have a goalie problem. Don’t stop if you’ve heard that before. You have. They have too many or too few depending on your worldview. But everyone’s waiting for Hart to solve it.

Hart has become somewhat of a legend in Delaware Valley, kind of like Bigfoot, except Hart has better hair. Flyers fans soon will see firsthand what Hart can do. He turns pro in 2018-19.

It’s easy to lump Sandstrom and Hart together, and it’s even easier after last season to forget about Sandstorm. Last July, there was talk about the two being the Flyers’ future tandem.

Now? Sandstrom is almost an afterthought when it comes to the goaltending picture.

At least from the outside.

“Sometimes with the way the world is today,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said, “people talk about one person and not another person, especially at that position. We all know there’s only one in the net so you only need one. So people talk about one. We’re very high on Felix. He’s a real competitor. He’s a really hard worker. He’s a hungry hockey player right now.”

While it’s true Sandstrom had a difficult 2017-18, it’s unfair to say he took a step back without heavily prefacing it with the circumstances — he missed two months because of the illness.

On the surface, the numbers dipped but not by much if we look at save percentage. Sandstrom played a total of 18 games between three teams — Brynäs IF and HV71 in the SHL and IK Oskarshamn on a loan to Allsvenskan — and had a combined .900 save percentage. But if we look at the save percentage in the SHL, Sandstrom posted a .904 save percentage in 11 games. In 22 games with Brynäs IF in 2016-17, he had a .908 save percentage.

That’s not to say Sandstrom did not struggle. His goals-against average increased and did so considerably. Combined, he had a 2.85 GAA. In the SHL, it was 2.73, a far cry from his 2.25 clip in 2016-17. We’ll find out soon enough how much the illness affected the 21-year-old goalie.

Sandstrom signed his three-year entry-level contract with the Flyers on March 28 but has one year left on his contract with HV71. The plan is for him to spend another year in Sweden.

Sound familiar? Perhaps it should. Last summer, many believed Sandstrom would come overseas for 2018-19, but the illness and missed time pushed that timetable back another year.

“You’re a young kid and you’ve never really been this before and how you handle it, how much of a pro you are, how you are with your teammates,” Hextall said. “It makes you hungry as a goalie. You can never really let your level drop. … I think he’s going to have a bang-up year.”

As Hartmania only gets louder now that he’ll very likely be a short hour-and-a-half drive away, Sandstrom will return to the SHL with a chip on his shoulder.

To prove that he still remains a highly-regarded NHL goalie prospect.

That he isn’t just the other goalie in the Flyers’ organization.

Don’t sleep on Sandstrom. As Jason Kelce says, hungry dogs run faster.

More on the Flyers

Flyers NHL trade deadline option: Check in on Maple Leafs' Kasperi Kapanen?

Flyers NHL trade deadline option: Check in on Maple Leafs' Kasperi Kapanen?

Leading up to the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline, we'll look at potential targets on the market and why they may or may not fit the Flyers' plans.

Kasperi Kapanen

Age: 23
Height: 6-1
Weight: 194
Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
2019-20 cap hit: $3.2 million

Scouting report

The skilled righty-shot winger blossomed last season with 20 goals and 44 points for the high-scoring Maple Leafs. This season, he has 12 goals and 33 points in 15:50 ice time per game.

There's plenty of upside with the 2014 first-round pick who has done the majority of his work this season at even strength (28 points) and in lesser minutes.

Kapanen, who plays on Toronto's penalty kill and third line, was given a one-game benching earlier this month for being late to practice after he overslept.

Projection

A player like Kapanen would undoubtedly bolster the Flyers' depth at forward and ability to score along the wing.

Why is he a trade candidate? Because the Maple Leafs are an offensively talented team in need of help on defense as it permits the NHL's sixth-most goals per game.

Kapanen has a profile trade suitors should like — he's young and reasonably under contract for the next two seasons. Therefore, Toronto could capitalize on the value and look to fill a glaring hole by shedding from its surplus of forwards.

Everyone knows the Flyers have a nice stock of defensemen, from the big club to down on the farm. Would they be willing to part ways with a blueliner and maybe a draft pick to add a promising non-rental to their future at forward?

Both parties have what it takes to intrigue the other.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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Flyers Talk podcast: Time to get excited about this 2019-20 team?

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Flyers Talk podcast: Time to get excited about this 2019-20 team?

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall debate if it's time to get excited about this 2019-20 team.

From what makes the Flyers different than in years past to concerns moving forward, let's dive in:

• 0:50 — Regular-season sweep of Blue Jackets says a lot

2:30 — Time to get excited about 2019-20 Flyers?

3:55 — Emmer has some questions about Philly driving

13:30 — What makes Alain Vigneault's team different

17:15 — Analyzing the Flyers' ceiling

25:00 — Has Kevin Hayes met expectations?

29:00 — Concerns with the Flyers

32:22 — Emmer should be on American Idol

33:10 — Miracle on Ice!

35:50 — Emmer's hockey joke of the day!

39:00 — Trade deadline show

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers