Will Ivan Fedotov Be Worth the Hype?

This past weekend, the Flyers signed Ivan Fedotov from the Russian KHL. He posted a respectable 14-10-2 record with a 2.00 GAA  and a .919 SV% during the regular season and 1.85 GAA  with a .937 SV% as he lead CKSA Moskva to the KHL Championship. He’s helmed several medal winning Russian teams in international play. He is also a 6’7″ behemoth who seems to take up the whole net. But will he be worth the hype?

The Flyers have had mixed results with goalies from Russia in the past. They gave up on Sergei Bobrovsky after a terrible showing in his first playoff season, despite finishing second in the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. They shipped him off to help his countrymen, Ilya Bryzgalov feel more secure in net, as well to sell high on the youngster.

That backfired as he won two Vezina Trophies and Bryz, while putting up decent regular season numbers, became more interested in saying every crazy thought in his head and became unreliable in the playoffs.

More importantly, the Flyers are looking at his size. Size can be important for a goalie. Theoretically, someone who takes up more of the net should be able to block more goals. Fedotov is the same height as Ben Bishop, who unfortunately had to retire this year due to injuries. But in his 11 year career, he was a three time Vezina trophy finalist.  Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen is also 6’7″, but his numbers are nowhere near as good as Bishop’s has been.

The Flyers don’t have to reach too far in their past to look for a tall goalie. In 2012, they drafted NJ native Anthony Stolarz, who stood at 6’6″, in the second round. Stolarz was groomed to be a hot goalie prospect. Over the years, his numbers at Lehigh Valley where pretty good. When called up to the big club, he was 6-4-4 in 14 starts with a 2.86 GAA and a .911 SV%. So, why didn’t the Flyers keep him?

Stolarz became attacked by the injury bug. He kept tearing his MCL in his knee. He would be traded to Edmonton in 2019 for Cam Talbot. Both Stolarz and Talbot became part of the record eight goalies used in the 2018-19 season as injury after injury ravaged the netminders.

When it comes to goalies, size does not matter and is not an indicator of success. Martin Brodeur and Marc-Andre Fleury are both 6’2″. Dominik Hasek and Henrik Lundqvist are 6’1″. Of course, if we are talking size, we can’t forget how former Flyers’ goalie Garth Snow, standing at 6’3″, used to wear goalie pads that were a little too big…so much so they had to make a rule about him!

As far as being a young goalie with international success, the Flyers have also had mixed success there. The aforementioned Bobrovsky had a stellar career in the KHL and a bronze medal in the 2008 World Junior Championships before posting a rookie season with a 2.59 GAA and .919 SV%. Czechia’s Roman Čechmánek had had success in the Czech league as Hasek’s backup in international play.

In his rookie year, he was the runner up for the Vezina Trophy as he had a 2.01 GAA and a .921 SV%. However, just like Bob in the playoffs, he struggled.  He would eventually go back to Europe to play in the Czech and Russian leagues.

Fedotov will have to adjust to the smaller rinks here in the NHL. That isn’t always easy to do. However, his body of work shows he can be a strong netminder. And if he is worth the hype, he and Hart could be the best goalie tandem the Flyers have had since Brian Boucher and John Vanbiesbrouck. Only time will tell.