What Felix Sandstrom's contract means for Flyers' goalies

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

What Felix Sandstrom's contract means for Flyers' goalies

The Flyers signed Felix Sandstrom, their 2015 third-round pick, to his entry-level contract last Tuesday, and with Sandstrom inked, they now have four goalies under contract for 2018-19.

Add in the three goaltenders who are set to hit restricted free agency in late June, and Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has decisions to make in goal, at all levels, this summer.

Some are easier than others. Brian Elliott, who’s entering the final year of his contract, will be back. Carter Hart, in his first professional season, will be in Lehigh Valley.

Then there is Michal Neuvirth, who also will be in the final season of his deal. The Neuvirth decision will be the most interesting because it will be hard to bring him back next season.

Neuvirth’s health continues to be an issue. He just cannot be trusted no matter how talented he is. If Hextall wants tandems, Neuvirth isn’t a reliable partner. It might be time to move on.

Petr Mrazek joins Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz as RFAs. Since coming over from Detroit, Mrazek, 26, hasn’t done anything to secure a qualifying offer from the Flyers.

Mrazek has a 3.09 goals-against average and .893 save percentage as a Flyer. It doesn’t play into the long-term plan to qualify him at $4.15 million. It’s a safe bet he was just an emergency rental.

That brings us to Lyon and Stolarz, who both signed one-year contracts last summer, and their situations may correlate with what the Flyers do with Neuvirth.

If Neuvirth returns, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which both Lyon and Stolarz return. There won’t be enough crease for them.

But if the Flyers decide enough is enough with Neuvirth’s injuries, that opens up two spots — the NHL backup job and with the Phantoms. You have to think Lyon has more leverage than Stolarz since Stolarz missed most of this season with a significant knee injury.

Lyon has looked the part of an NHL goalie when called upon, and we can say the same about Stolarz in his limited time last year. You have to think they’ll want a shot at a backup job somewhere.

There are a lot of moving factors here. In short, Sandstrom’s contract means the Flyers retain his rights, and he’s very much in the long-term plans (see story).

Sandstrom is signed for one more season in the SHL, with HV71. In theory, the Flyers could have a Hart-Sandstrom tandem in the AHL next season, but that’s unrealistic. He's likely headed back to Sweden.

The numbers game, though, signals this summer will be fascinating when it comes to goalie decisions. While Sandstrom may not be a direct benefit, his contract makes things interesting.

As they say, it’s always goaltending in Philadelphia.

Quick Hits
• Another injury for Philippe Myers, who was hurt in practice last week and seen in the press box in a walking boot, according to Jamey Baskow. Samuel Morin is skating on his own.

• Morgan Frost had five assists and seven points as Sault Ste. Marie swept Saginaw in the OHL Playoffs.

• Matthew Strome had a monster first-round series for Hamilton with eight assists and 10 points.

• Isaac Ratcliffe had five goals and nine points in six playoff games.

• Hart had a 1.97 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage as Everett eliminated Seattle in five games. Hart pitched a shutout in Game 5 on Saturday night.

Future Flyers Report — Laczynski helps Ohio State reach Frozen Four

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Future Flyers Report — Laczynski helps Ohio State reach Frozen Four

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects.

Tanner Laczynski, C, 20, 6-1/191, Ohio State (NCAA)
Laczynski helped No. 1 Ohio State advance to its first Frozen Four since 1997-98 last weekend.

The junior registered a goal and an assist as the Buckeyes beat No. 4 Princeton, 4-2, Saturday. In OSU’s second-round matchup Sunday night, a 5-1 win over No. 2 Denver, Laczynski had a primary assist.

Ohio State will face No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth Thursday night for a chance to advance to its first-ever hockey national championship game.

Philippe Myers, D, 21, 6-5/209, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Myers’ first professional season has been met with injuries, growing pains and plenty of positives. Perhaps it’s best described as expected. Still, Myers is an exciting defenseman.

Over the weekend, Myers had a goal and an assist but finished as a minus-3 in two games as the Phantoms clinched their playoff berth. He has one goal and three assists in his last six games.

The numbers aren’t eye-popping, and he’s missed time with a groin injury, but overall, it’s been an encouraging first pro campaign for Myers, who has five goals and 21 points and a plus-12 rating in 50 games. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a legit look at next year’s training camp.

Mikhail Vorobyev, C, 21, 6-2/207, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
With Valtteri Filppula coming off the books this summer, the Flyers should have an open competition for a center spot in their bottom six in the fall. Vorobyev is a name to watch.

Vorobyev picked up an assist Friday night in Lehigh Valley’s 5-4 overtime loss to Providence, and while he was pointless Saturday, the Russian has 10 points in his last 11 games.

If you recall this past training camp, Vorobyev had an impressive showing. He didn’t have a realistic shot at making the Flyers, but he flashed glimpses of what makes him an intriguing prospect. With his first season in North American almost over, Vorobyev should have a better shot in 2018-19 to make the big club.

Quick Hits
• Morgan Frost had a monster Game 2 for Sault Ste. Marie, who went up 2-0 on Saginaw. Frost had two goals and an assist in the 8-0 win. He had an assist in Game 1. Game 3 is tonight.

• Matthew Strome tallied a goal and two assists in Hamilton’s 6-3 win over Ottawa in Game 1 Thursday. He had an assist in Game 2 Sunday.

• Pascal Laberge carried his hot streak into the postseason, posting back-to-back multi-point games for Quebec, who’s tied 1-1 in its best-of-seven series with Charlottetown.

• A rare clunker Saturday night from Carter Hart, who allowed five goals in Everett’s 5-4 loss to Seattle in Game 2 of its playoff series.

Future Flyers Report — Anthony Stolarz's long road back to playing

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Future Flyers Report — Anthony Stolarz's long road back to playing

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects.

Anthony Stolarz, G, 24, 6-6/232, Reading (ECHL)
It was a long road back but Stolarz found his way back on the ice last week.

Stolarz began his rehab stint with the Royals and it doesn’t appear to be a long one. Per Jason Guarente, Stolarz packed up his gear Saturday and appears headed back to Lehigh Valley.

With Reading, Stolarz allowed six goals on 61 shots. As of this post, he has yet to be recalled.

The 24-year-old had been out since last April and underwent left knee surgery in September. Now that he’s back on the ice, expect Stolarz to see some AHL action. He’s on a one-year deal.

Carter Hart, G, 19, 6-1/177, Everett (WHL)
Well, some disappointing news first. He failed to break the WHL shutout record, allowing one goal in Everett’s final regular-season game. He finishes his junior career with 26 shutouts.

Hart enjoyed one of the best junior seasons ever from a goalie and dominated the WHL. He led the league in goals-against average (1.60), save percentage (.947) and shutouts (7). The disparity between Hart and the No. 2 goalie, Cole Kehler, in GAA is remarkable. Hart finished with more than a goal better average than Kehler’s 2.77. Griffin Outhouse was second in save percentage, with .914. Hart was head and shoulders above his peers in the WHL.

Up next, the WHL playoffs. Then next season, the AHL. Hart watch is ramping up.

Morgan Frost, C, 18, 5-11/172, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Frost’s quest to lead the OHL in points came up short but the Flyers' “other” 2017 first-round pick finished his draft-plus-1 season as a 1.67 point-per-game player.

The 18-year-old’s regular season ended Sunday with a goal and an assist. He finished the season with 42 goals, 70 assists and 112 points and led the OHL as a plus-70 player. Next up is the OHL playoffs.

Let’s cool the jets on the Frost on the Flyers talk next season. There is a chance he outshines the competition in training camp but he still needs to bulk up a considerable amount.

March Madness
The NCAA Tournament begins Friday. It’ll feature four Flyers prospects, Michigan’s Cooper Marody and Brendan Warren, Ohio State’s Tanner Laczynski and Clarkson’s Terrance Amorosa.

Quick Hits
• Phantoms center Mikhail Vorobyev remained hot last week with two assists in three weekend games. He has eight points in his last nine games.

• Pascal Laberge’s point streak reached nine games before ending Friday. He finished the regular season with 47 points in 64 games between Quebec and Victoriaville.

• Matthew Strome, who signed his entry-level contract last week, finished the regular season with Hamilton with 37 goals and 68 points.

Isaac Ratcliffe’s season wrapped up on a four-game point streak and three-game goal streak. Ratcliffe led Guelph with 41 goals and 68 points.

• The Flyers signed Maksim Sushko to his entry-level contract. Sushko finished with 31 goals and 60 points. Five of the Flyers’ seven 2017 draft picks have signed.