Brian Elliott

How should Flyers utilize Carter Hart and Brian Elliott in 2019-20 season?

How should Flyers utilize Carter Hart and Brian Elliott in 2019-20 season?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall and Brooke Destra.

The topic: How will the Flyers' 2019-20 goaltending tandem play out?

Hall

As good as Carter Hart was in 2018-19 and as bright as his future appears, the Flyers will closely watch his workload. He turns only 21 years old this month and will be entering his first full NHL season in 2019-20.

But if Hart is playing well, there's no reason why the Flyers shouldn't ride him as a No. 1. He carried them through a stretch last year and actually provided relevancy to a 2018-19 season that looked seriously lost at one point.

When the Flyers re-signed Brian Elliott in June, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said this about Hart:

We believe strongly that Carter's our goaltender of the future. At times last year, he was our goalie of the present. We certainly anticipate him being one of two goaltenders. But it's no different than anybody — he's going to have to come in and earn his ice time. We do have 17 back-to-backs this year. You guys know how difficult the NHL schedule is with travel. I anticipate both guys playing.

I think the days of a 65- to 70-game goaltender are probably gone. Somewhere in the 30-to-50 range for each guy … it'll depend on performance, health and schedule.

That's fair and sounds about right. If the Flyers can get 50 or so games out of Hart and 30 or so out of Elliott, they would absolutely take it. Ideally, though, if Hart stays healthy and is giving the team the best chance to win, there shouldn't be a problem if the Flyers let him flirt with the range of 60 games.

The better goalies in the league play 60-plus games a season. As a rookie in 2018-19, Jordan Binnington played 58 total games — 32 in the regular season, 26 in the playoffs — and was fine. In fact, he led the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup title.

This is not to say Hart will and should absolutely play 60 games. But he should be the Flyers' guy when he's going well — he's the No. 1, Elliott is the No. 2. The 34-year-old should be ready to help if things aren't right with Hart. That's how the Flyers should treat their goalie tandem.

It's Hart's time. 

Destra

I was pro bringing back Elliott, but it will only remain that way if he is going to be utilized the way an aging (and injury prone) goaltender should be. Hart has always been the future and luckily for Flyers fans and the organization — the future is finally here.

The thing with Elliott is he has very solid numbers when he doesn’t play for extended periods of time. If he is well-rested and given enough time to recover in between starts, chances are the Flyers could get very solid performances out of him.

The Flyers do have the tendency to ride with the goalie who has the hot glove but this is what the team needs to avoid in order to keep the balance between the pipes.

This is Hart’s team now and he should only sit when the team is facing back-to-back games. There are 17 different times this season when that is going to occur.

It’s also important to take into account that even though Hart has the green light, he should not be overworked either. If he seems worn out or finds himself in a stretch of games in which he isn’t where he needs to be, let him sit. He’ll be just 21 when the season starts. It’s bound to happen at some point, and that is expected from any up-and-coming player in the league.

In a perfect world, Hart would start 50 games this season and Elliott would play the remaining 32 if (knock on wood) he can remain healthy. Is that asking for a lot? Probably. But there is a different balance heading into October and hopefully for the Flyers it will all work out. 

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5 Flyers takeaways: Why Brian Elliott is back, what could be next, more

5 Flyers takeaways: Why Brian Elliott is back, what could be next, more

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers continued their busy roster construction with the re-signing of goalie Brian Elliott on Wednesday afternoon to nail down the team's backup for Carter Hart in 2019-20.

General manager Chuck Fletcher has made things happen, while the start of the July 1 free agency period has yet to arrive.

With that said, let's get into five takeaways on the recent developments with the Flyers:

1. Good for the Hart?

The Flyers did their homework in search for a backup goaltender. After exhausting and analyzing all avenues, they were confident with bringing back Elliott, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

"We took full advantage of the shopping period, as I believe he did, too," Fletcher said Wednesday at Flyers Skate Zone. "We spoke to quite a few goaltenders this week, quite a few agents for goaltenders this week. We did a lot of due diligence looking into everyone's background, medical histories and stats — everything we can do."

Fletcher said the Flyers talked "extensively" to both Elliott and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Cam Talbot. Ultimately, Talbot indicated to the Flyers that he was "looking for a situation where he felt he might play a little bit more than what he anticipated playing here," Fletcher said.

As we wrote here, Elliott was a cost-effective, internal option for the Flyers. Does his recent injury history make the decision a risk? Absolutely, but Fletcher noted how Elliott finished the 2018-19 season healthy and said the 34-year-old feels "the best he's felt in a while" since his core muscle issues.

He has a full summer of training. He's not just rehabbing, he's training.

At the end of the day, we know Brian as well as, if not better than, everybody — we know his medical history, we know how he fits in the room, we know how he fits with Carter and we know how well he plays.

He takes care of himself, he's a high-end competitor and he's a good teammate. For us, it made a lot of sense.

2. Net gains

Elliott is competitive and will push Hart for playing time. Given Talbot was eyeing more starts elsewhere, it's clear Elliott was receptive to the situation with the Flyers: Hart is the guy. It doesn't mean Elliott won't be needed. After all, Hart will be only 21 years old and in his first full NHL season, while the Flyers have 17 back-to-back sets on their schedule.

"I anticipate both guys playing," Fletcher said. "I think the days of a 65- to 70-game goaltender are probably gone. Somewhere in the 30-to-50 range for each guy … it'll depend on performance, health and schedule."

If the Flyers can get 30 games out of Elliott, they'd take it. Even after he missed a 40-game stretch last season with a lower-body injury, Elliott still managed to play 26 games.

3. Placing Pitlick

The Flyers on Monday acquired forward Tyler Pitlick in a trade with the Stars.

How does the 27-year-old work into the team's plans?

"He's been mainly a bottom-six player," Fletcher said. "He's played the third line, he's the played fourth line, he brings good size, he's a good skater. Has a pretty consistent north-south, physical game. Brings a lot of energy. Shoots the puck pretty well, he can certainly score a goal, but his bread and butter is that puck pressure, forechecking type of game. The size and the speed fit well with what we want to try to create in terms of our bottom six."

The Flyers definitely want to be tougher to play against and Pitlick should help. If anything, he gives Alain Vigneault and the coaching staff another piece. Moving Ryan Hartman in the deal offered the Flyers a bit more cost certainty with the cap and signing their restricted free agents.

4. More to come?

Are the Flyers done adding? Not necessarily.

The club has around $16 million in cap space if Philippe Myers makes the roster over David Schlemko. Fletcher still needs to sign four restricted free agents in Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

"We have plenty of cap space to bring our players back," Fletcher said. "Whether we have enough to go add another player, I'm not sure about that."

With the way the offseason has gone, don't ever rule out a trade. But it sounds like if the Flyers are seeking anything else, it will come in the form of depth at forward.

"We feel we've made some key additions, we've filled some holes and we have some pretty good young kids coming, too," Fletcher said. "I think our depth will be significantly better and hopefully on July 1 and 2, we'll have some more announcements to make on some players that can come in and help our organization — whether it's in Lehigh Valley or Philadelphia. I think we'll be in a good space in having good players and having sufficient depth."

5. A kid's game

Fletcher has not ruled out a prospect taking a job within the group of forwards. That, along with the cap, are reasons for why the Flyers don't appear overly eager to land a high-end forward before training camp.

Some prospects that could potentially fill out the Flyers' lineup: Aube-Kubel, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe.

"We have five real good wingers — certainly better wingers than any team I've been a part of," Fletcher said. "To me, that wasn't an area of weakness. But we'll see. We'll also see what comes out of training camp. Just watching this development camp, there are a lot of young kids, and ideally they all get some time in the American league, but there's a lot of high-end talent here.

"It's been impressive to see. Our scouting staff has done a tremendous job. This is the most talent I've seen in a development camp in my whatever number of years I've been in the business — both in terms of quality and quantity and every position.

"At some point, there are certainly players in this camp right now that could impact our roster in a positive way."

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Flyers sign Brian Elliott to 1-year contract extension

Flyers sign Brian Elliott to 1-year contract extension

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers have their backup for Carter Hart.

Brian Elliott on Wednesday signed a one-year, $2 million contract extension with the Flyers. The 34-year-old was set to become an unrestricted free agent after two seasons with the Flyers in which he went 34-22-8 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .908 save percentage over 69 games (65 starts). He has battled injuries each year, missing a 40-game stretch last season because of a lower-body injury and significant time in 2017-18 following core muscle surgery he underwent on Feb. 13.

The backup to Hart will be crucial in 2019-20. Not only will Hart be just 21 years old and facing his first full NHL season, but the Flyers also play 17 back-to-back sets, which is four more than they did a year ago. Thirteen of those sets will be a part of stretches in which the Flyers play three games in four nights.

"Brian has played well for us the last two seasons," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a release by the team. "He is a proven, quality goaltender who competes and battles hard every time he has the net. We are excited to have him rejoin our team."

The Flyers had Elliott and Cam Talbot, two soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, as No. 2 options. They also could have gone the trade or free-agent market route. Fletcher, though, had more pressing areas to address like signing Kevin Hayes to bolster the forwards, reshaping the defense and creating as much cap flexibility as possible. Elliott was a veteran, cost-effective, internal option, but was he the best option?

While Elliott doesn't appear as the most reliable backup given his age and recent injury history, he's played in a tandem for most his career, is familiar with the Flyers and has at least been productive when healthy. He'll have to prove he can stay healthy enough to spell Hart from time to time. If he can't, the Flyers could be in trouble — again — and scrambling for somebody that can be trusted (see story).

At his end-of-the season press conference, you could sense Elliott's competitiveness.

"The mentor thing gets kind of caught up. It's a tough word choice," Elliott said. "I think [Hart] needs someone that is going to help him along the way and push him to be better. Hartsy is a great young goalie and is going to be good in this league for a long time. The Philly fans have a lot to look forward to."

The Flyers have around $16 million in cap space if Philippe Myers is on the roster over David Schlemko. Fletcher has to re-sign restricted free agents Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

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