How does the Anthony Stolarz injury affect the Flyers?

With the news that goalie Anthony Stolarz will miss all of next season, the Philadelphia Flyers are forced to take stock of their depleted depth in net.

The 2017-18 season was supposed to be the year that Philadelphia Flyers goalie Anthony Stolarz gained a permanent foothold in the NHL. Instead, Stolarz will spend it rehabbing a season-ending left knee injury.

This is obviously a devastating blow for such a promising young player. Earlier in this season, we talked about why Stolarz was ready for a permanent role with the Flyers. Since Ron Hextall and the rest of the front office wasn’t comfortable with a Michal Neuvirth-Anthony Stolarz goalie tandem, they went and signed Brian Elliott, forming a more proven platoon. As a result, it fell to Stolarz to play so well with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this year that the Flyers would have no choice but to call him up.

But with this unfortunate turn of events, Stolarz’s future with the organization has never been more uncertain. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of this season, but with other talented young options behind him like Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom, it’s certainly possible that the Flyers may decide to let Stolie the Goalie walk.

The question now is how Stolarz’s injury affects the Flyers both now and in the future. In the short term, the team’s goalie depth has certainly suffered. In Stolarz, the Flyers had a goalie they could confidently slot into a temporary role if Elliott or Neuvirth struggled or were injured. Without him, former undrafted free agent Alex Lyon becomes the next man up. Lyon isn’t a bad option- he posted a very respectable .912 SV% with the Phantoms last year- but he is very much unproven at the NHL level.

The long term effects of the injury are probably milder. Even in the rosiest of outlooks, Stolarz is not likely to become a top-tier starting goalie, especially after this setback. Carter Hart remains the organization’s best chance at long-term stability in net, and Sandstrom and Lyon both have promise.

Even so, it’s a real shame that Stolarz won’t have the opportunity to force himself into the conversation. Here’s hoping Stolie will come back stronger than ever next season, whether the Flyers retain him or not.