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.

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The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

It's Aug. 15, the dog days of summer and hockey is still a few weeks away.

But Jakub Voracek turns 29 years old today and this summer, the winger has already played a big part in helping push the Flyers' process into its next stage by helping recruit James van Riemsdyk back to town (see story).

Voracek is coming off a career-best season at 28 years old, posting 85 points in 82 games in 2017-18. He finished fourth in the NHL with 65 assists and ninth with 35 power-play points.

All of this came after a somewhat disappointing 2016-17 season — 61 points in 82 games, not particularly bad numbers but also not the production you'd like from a player with an $8.25 million cap hit and in Year 1 of an eight-year, $66 million extension.

Last season, though, Voracek proved that he can still very much produce at a top level. Since joining the Flyers in 2011-12, Voracek is third among all wingers with 303 assists and fifth in points with 439. Since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he's eighth among all skaters with 272 assists and 15th in points with 390.

With today being Voracek's birthday, let's take a look back at some of the best from his time as a Flyer because Voracek is one of the most personable players around.

Some plays

Jan. 27, 2016: Voracek scored the game-winner 38 seconds into overtime. It was an important goal in a big game as the Flyers were in the middle of a wild-card chase (see story).

Oct. 14, 2017: The Flyers put a pounding on the Capitals in an 8-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center. Voracek had three assists. This one was one of them. Poor Madison Bowey.

Jan. 13, 2018: Voracek has also torched other teams than the Capitals. Here is a kick pass to Giroux against the Devils in North Jersey.

Some fights

Voracek is not exactly a fighter. According to, he has four official fights during the regular season and all have come with the Flyers.

There was the time he dropped the gloves with Gabriel Landeskog for about 30 seconds in Colorado and then said, "I don't think I picked the right city to fight in."

Then there was the time when he roughed up Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi.

Some singing

Sportswriters aren't the only ones who like Bruce Springsteen. Yes, Voracek is also a fan.

A little charity

On Feb. 28, 2017, against the Avalanche, Voracek was eventually credited with a goal many Flyers fans believed was Wayne Simmonds' hat trick. In fact, 396 hats came pouring down to the ice.

As a gesture for taking a hat trick away from Simmonds, Voracek purchased 396 new Flyers hats and donated them to local hospitals for children battling cancer (see story).

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

While the Flyers have not announced the start of their rookie and training camp, they did provide an indication Tuesday of when the camps will be.

For the third straight season, the Flyers and New York Islanders will square off Sept. 12 in their annual rookie game. This time, it returns to New York.

The game will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Northwell Health Ice Center, the Islanders' practice facility in East Meadow, New York. According to Newsday's Andrew Gross, ticket proceeds will benefit the Islanders' Children's Foundation.

In years past, the Flyers have streamed the games on their official website.

Last year, the Flyers-Islanders rookie game was on Sept. 13, 2017, two days after rookie camp began and two days before the main camp opened.

The rookie game marks the official end of rookie camp, so by the process of elimination, a safe guess would be the Flyers' rookie camp will be Sept. 10 and training camp likely opening a day or two after the game.

The Islanders beat the Flyers, 4-3, in overtime last September. The Flyers won the first game two years ago. From 2007 to 2014, the Flyers and Capitals faced each other in their annual rookie games.

Rookie games are fun because they're the first glimpse of prospects and with the Flyers, there's a ton to be excited about — even if signing James van Riemsdyk accelerates their process (see story).

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