The Flyers have a lot of depth in their organization and goaltending is just one of them. But there are some prospects that fans may have forgotten about.
And while we know of others such as Felix Sandstrom and Kirill Ustimenko, there are some prospects that fans may not remember. And that’s what we’ll be looking at.
The one Flyers prospect that has taken a long journey in his career has been Matej Tomek. Despite behind drafted in 2015, he has played in the NCAA, USHL, and Slovakia. The Flyers have until August of 2021 to sign Tomek to an entry-level contract.
It has been troubling to see Tomek unable to find playing time in multiple NCAA programs. And leaving two programs so quickly isn’t necessarily a good look. Playing for four different teams in four seasons is also not a promising sign.
The Flyers drafted Tomek following his 33-game season with the Topeka Roadrunners of the NAHL. He posted a 1.83 GAA and a .928 SV%. So pretty decent numbers going into his draft year. He was the eighth goaltender taken and second of the third round by the Flyers. They drafted Sandstrom with the 70th pick, Tomek with the 90th. And Sandstrom has already bested Tomek by appearing in both the ECHL and AHL.
After being drafted, Tomek was off to the University of North Dakota. This is where the trouble began. He failed to play a single game in the 2015-16 campaign. Cam Johnson and Matt Hrynkiw split duties that season. Tomek had a chance the following season, but he posted a 7.46 GAA and a .692 SV% in two games. He once again could not beat out Johnson and Hrynkiw.
Looking for a chance to play, Tomek left UND and joined the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. He did appear in 30 games. He finished that season with a 2.39 GAA and a .907 SV%. Not outstanding numbers, but consistent playing time was the main reason for leaving UND. He decided to go back into the NCAA, this time at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. That didn’t go well either.
In just five games, he posted a 4.73 GAA and a .845 SV%. Evan Weninger played a bulk of the games, appearing in 35 of them. This time, Tomek didn’t wait another season to leave. He decided to forgo his senior season to turn pro in Slovakia. Tomek spent this past season with HK Dukla Trencin in Slovakia’s Tipsport Liga. This is their highest level of hockey. There, he appeared to be the number one guy, playing in 32 games. His goaltending partner, Michal Valent, appeared in 25 games. The numbers were once again average, a 2.34 GAA and a .927 SV%. But anything was a step up from his college seasons.
He was loaned to HK 95 Povazska Bystrica for four games, posting a 3.58 GAA and a .914 SV%. This is the third tier of ice hockey in Slovakia so it was a minor step down in competition. Tomek also played internationally for Slovakia. His one-game went well as he finished with a 1.85 GAA and a .941 SV%.
With the Flyers having plenty of other goaltending prospects in their system, it is likely the team will decide not to sign Tomek. He does have another year to prove them wrong. But turning pro in Slovakia may have been Tomek’s only chance to play professional hockey. With the struggles he faced in North America, he may have realized that himself as well.