Early Monday morning, Philadelphia Flyers goaltending prospect Felix Sandström signed a one-year contract with TPS Turku of SM-Liiga, Finland’s top-tier league, according to a news release by the Finnish club. Sandström, a 24 year-old from Gävle, Sweden, was a third-round draft selection of the Flyers in the 2015 NHL Draft under former general manager Ron Hextall’s regime.
Sandström spent the recent 2020-21 season between his native Sweden and North America. He began the year with Västerviks IK of HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s second-tier league, before coming over and joining the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He was also a frequent member of the Flyers’ taxi squad at the NHL level as well, which helped his development as he got to practice and skate with the NHL club.
Sandström appeared in five games for Västerviks IK, going 1-4 with a .921 save percentage and 2.74 goals against average. He also played in 11 games for Lehigh Valley, sporting a 5-3-3 record along with a .903 SV% and 3.19 GAA in his first real action in the AHL.
Sandström has spent the majority of his professional career in the Swedish Hockey League, spending time between Brynäs IF and HV71 from 2014-15 to 2018-19. He has also played at the International level as well, representing Team Sweden on numerous occasions with the U18 and U20 clubs, and also played in two World Junior Championships.
He most notably appeared for the Juniorkronorna in the 2017 World Junior Championships, serving as Sweden’s starting netminder and appeared in six games, recording a 4-2-0 record to complement his .915 SV% and 2.17 GAA. Sandström would help lead Team Sweden to a fourth-place finish in the tournament after falling 2-1 in the bronze medal game to Team Russia.
Sandström’s signing with TPS Turku certainly raises some eyebrows considering that he would’ve been competing for the starting job in Lehigh Valley this upcoming season and could have potentially been the organization’s third goalie on the depth chart.
Sandström is a restricted free agent but the Flyers will tender him a qualifying offer to maintain his NHL rights, and it is worth noting that Philadelphia just signed fellow Swede Samuel Ersson to his entry-level contract a few days ago. The Flyers also have Kirill Ustimenko at their disposal, who split time between Lehigh Valley and the ECHL’s Reading Royals in 2019-20 in his first, and to date, only North American professional season. He also has one more season remaining on his entry-level contract.
The Flyers also have goaltending prospects such as Ivan Fedotov and Matej Tomek in their system at the moment as well, though time is running out to sign them should the Flyers choose to do that. They also have a decision to make on whether or not to bring back veteran Alex Lyon as well.