Flyers

End to End: How should Flyers tackle their goalie situation?

End to End: How should Flyers tackle their goalie situation?

The topic: How should the Flyers tackle their goaltending situation?

John Boruk
I’ve been contemplating the goaltending quandary for the better half of the past month and how it might sort itself out. As we’ve discussed, there are six NHL/AHL caliber goaltenders at a table that seats just four.

For starters, we could have some clarity during the draft if general manager Ron Hextall makes a trade (or two) that would give the Flyers a draft pick, a prospect or a player that can help the team next season.

I expect Hextall to work the phones to find an interested team for Petr Mrazek, or inevitably he becomes a free agent on July 1.

Brian Elliott returns as the Flyers' No. 1 when 100 percent healthy.

Carter Hart is the future franchise netminder and he needs to play and play a lot, which is why you can pencil him in as the starter for Lehigh Valley to begin next season.

That leaves injury-plagued Michal Neuvirth, Anthony Stolarz (also returning from major knee surgery) and Alex Lyon. I just don’t see the organization parting ways with Stolarz (a 2012 second-round pick) until it knows with certainty what it has once he’s healthy.

I would take all five goaltenders into training camp come September and let the situation play itself out. There’s plenty of injury risk on this team so why deplete the position especially when you consider how last season unfolded.

Tom Dougherty
Guess what. As another summer approaches, we're left talking Flyers goaltending. Fun!

I don't know how the Flyers can go into next season trusting Neuvirth. He has another year left on his contract, but there are ways around that. Neuvirth is a talented goalie who can never stay healthy. He's unreliable and that's a problem.

The Flyers have a goalie numbers problem. Lyon and Stolarz are restricted free agents and Hart is turning pro. Unless Hart shocks all, he'll be with the Phantoms full-time.

If the Flyers' plan is to bring back both Elliott and Neuvirth, that leaves one spot open in Lehigh Valley and that spot belongs to Lyon. He earned another contract with his play down the stretch, in the AHL playoffs and his time with the Flyers last season.

It's hard to imagine a scenario in which Stolarz returns to the club. It's a shame because he lost his spot on the depth chart because of injury, but that's hockey. If Neuvirth comes back, it's safe to say one of the AHL goalies will see NHL time next season.

There's too much of an unknown with Stolarz's health to choose him over Lyon. Theoretically, both could come back. The Flyers own both of their rights. But I could see Hextall trading Stolarz to let him get a fresh start elsewhere.

If I was in charge, I would find a way to move on from Neuvirth and allow Lyon and Stolarz duke it out for the NHL backup job. The loser heads to Lehigh Valley to mentor Hart.

Jordan Hall
It's never a bad time to talk goalies in Philadelphia, right?

Currently, there's a boatload to break down.

I don't see a major problem heading into the season with Elliott and Neuvirth as your tandem again. If both are healthy — I understand that's a big if — they can be reliable and have shown that to the Flyers with stretches of play. Both goalies are on the final year of their contract, so you enter 2018-19 with those two as your guys and if they can't stay injury free, then the good thing is the organization has options.

Right now, it just feels like Stolarz is the odd man out. You can probably bet Hextall is working the phones a tad on Neuvirth, Stolarz and obviously Mrazek. A trade is more than possible, but Hextall won't decimate his depth just because the Flyers have a lot of players at one position.

Ultimately, I don't foresee any big surprises. Looks like Elliott-Neuvirth in Philly and Lyon-Hart waiting in the wings at Lehigh Valley.

More on Flyers' goalies

• Following 'gloomy' time, what's next for Elliott?

• Why Neuvirth's NHL career hinges on this offseason

Are Flyers next? How Hart won over his junior GM

• After incredible effort, Lyon solidifies case for contract

Sorry NHL trade buzz, sorry Flyers' playoff push — Oskar Lindblom's smile wins the day

Sorry NHL trade buzz, sorry Flyers' playoff push — Oskar Lindblom's smile wins the day

All the trade fodder and debate took a backseat.

Gaining ground in the playoff race and smelling first place felt inconsequential.

Quite frankly, nothing compares to Oskar Lindblom's smile.

Just ask the Flyers.

“Oh, it’s awesome. His smile, you know, he’s just a great guy to have around — he brightens your day," Justin Braun said. "The fact that he’s doing well and he’s able to come to the rink and see the boys is just fantastic.”

Lindblom, the Flyers’ 23-year-old forward who is battling Ewing’s sarcoma, surprised the team Saturday by greeting it after a 4-2 win over the Jets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Lindblom visited the entire team and staff in early-to-mid January, when he had begun his cancer treatment.

Once again Saturday, the Swedish native's vibrant smile uplifted everyone. It always does.

“Really good, really good to see him," Scott Laughton said, trying to put his emotions into words. "Just really good to see him.”

"It’s great to see him, I haven’t seen him in a couple weeks," Carter Hart added. "I'm sure he was happy to come to the rink and see the boys. All of us are happy to see him and he’s looking great."

The Flyers had a lot to be happy about Saturday. They strengthened their playoff chances, crept to within three points of the Penguins and Capitals in the Metropolitan Division race and general manager Chuck Fletcher watched his team further cement its status as a contender ahead of Monday's 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline (see observations).

But head coach Alain Vigneault's first postgame comments were about Lindblom.

“He was smiling," Vigneault said. "Great smile, looked beautiful.

“Makes everybody feel good. There’s no doubt that we’re all behind him, his teammates are obviously checking up on him on a regular basis and so is the whole staff.

"But to see him live, it’s just beautiful.”

For the the Flyers, it doesn't get better than that.

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Ahead of NHL trade deadline, Flyers give general manager Chuck Fletcher another win

Ahead of NHL trade deadline, Flyers give general manager Chuck Fletcher another win

BOX SCORE

The Flyers gave their general manager one more quality show before Monday's 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline.

Chuck Fletcher watched his club beat the Jets, 4-2, Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (35-20-7), who won their third straight, came into the action with a 79.6 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com. They sit in third place of the Metropolitan Division and are only three points back of the Penguins and Capitals (see standings).

Game 62 is the quickest the Flyers have recorded 35 wins since 2010-11, when the club got there at Game 53. The Flyers finished with 47 wins, 106 points and a playoff series victory that season.

The Jets (32-26-5), who entered holding the Western Conference's first wild-card spot, had their three-game winning streak snapped.

• Saturday marked the Flyers' final outing ahead of the trading period.

Alain Vigneault's club is looking more and more like a contender. The Flyers are 13-5-1 with an NHL-high 68 goals since Jan. 8. Over that stretch, only two teams have more points than their 27 — the Lightning (31) and Bruins (29). Overall, they're a top-seven team in the league.

Does the Flyers' standing give Fletcher more incentive to add to his roster? Or do the Flyers have enough to make a run?

“I like my team," Vigneault said before the game. "And for me, this is no different as any other day during the regular season. I know that Chuck looks at any option that can improve our team, he’s been doing that since the first day that I was hired. Now we’re into the final stretch. If there’s something that he feels can improve our team, he’ll definitely look at it. But I’m very happy moving forward with the players that we have here.”

Does Vigneault have a voice in the matters?

“I’ve got a nice French voice," the head coach said with a laugh. "So I’ll throw my two cents in there, it’ll be fine.”

• The Flyers didn't play their best game, but good teams win when they're not at their best.

They did enough and a solid first period made up for a subpar second period in which the Flyers were outshot 15-4.

• For all the talk about the Flyers needing to add depth at forward, Scott Laughton has given the club plenty of it.

He scored a pair of goals to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead at first intermission. In 40 fewer games this season, Laughton has matched his career of 12 goals set in 2018-19.

If the Flyers get Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) back or acquire a center at the deadline, Laughton would likely be pegged as the team's fourth-line center. Not bad at all.

Tyler Pitlick, another depth piece, scored a clutch third-period goal to extend the Flyers' lead to 4-2. Sean Couturier was the Flyers' other goal scorer. The team's role guys continued to play well.

• Flyers defensemen Ivan Provorov, Matt Niskanen, Justin Braun and Robert Hagg were very good against a big, skilled offensive team.

Braun finished with three assists.

• Carter Hart gave up a power play blast off the stick of Patrik Laine and a goal to Josh Morrissey.

Outside of that, he was stout again, improving to 16-2-2 with a 1.64 goals-against average at home.

He's a huge reason why the Flyers are 21-5-4 with a plus-45 goal differential in 30 home games.

• Shayne Gostisbehere (left knee) will wrap up his two-game conditioning stint tonight with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Vigneault said pregame that he expects Gostisbehere to return to the big club Sunday. The Flyers will have decisions to make heading into Monday (see story).

• Stick tap to Flyers director of sports medicine Jim McCrossin.

• The team is off from practice Sunday as the Flyers Wives Carnival will be held at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers practice Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before hosting the Sharks Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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