For the first time in recent memory, the Philadelphia Flyers have found themselves in a tricky, yet enviable situation. They have three good NHL goalies. It starts with Carter Hart, who is the team’s starting goalie. Hart has been solid all season and has been the “savior” in net that this team has long desired. Then he got hurt.
When he got hurt, it put the Flyers down a bit because Felix Sandstrom was out with an illness as the team headed to Carolina. In his place, the Flyers called up Samuel Ersson. Ersson had made his NHL debut against the Hurricanes but was chased out of net after a brutal first 30 minutes against one of the NHL’s best teams. Hart came in to close out the game but got hurt 10 minutes in.
Then came the Christmas break. Hart was still out, so the Flyers leaned on Ersson and Sandstrom as the team traveled to California. Then Ersson ripped off three straight wins. Sandstrom hasn’t played in a while, but still has been a serviceable backup, with a 3.37 GAA and a save percentage of .888%; not bad for your rookie backup.
Flyers make some much-needed roster moves
Now, Hart is healthy. A roster space needs to be opened up. The team had some room with Olle Lycksell being sent down. Philly is not going to keep three goalies on the team. Someone is left out But how and who?
The Flyers aren’t going to sit their starter when he is healthy. Ersson has been playing well and while he could get some more seasoning in the AHL, do you want to send him back down? Sandstrom could be sent down, but that would require him to pass through waivers. Goalies are always a premium in the NHL. If he is sent through the waiver wires, it is a strong possibility we’d see the last of him. So, how do the Flyers get around this?
Simple. The team placed Sandstrom on a “conditioning stint” in the AHL. This allows him to go to the AHL without exposing him to waivers…for now. Ersson can stay and learn from Hart and Hart can play.
In a side move, Kieffer Bellows has been recalled again. Bellows has bounced back and forth between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Flyers this season. In 12 games, the former first-rounder has yet to register a point. However, in 11 games in the AHL, he has three goals and six assists.
This roster trickery isn’t a long-term solution for now, but it does give them some breathing room for the moment. Almost every team would salivate at the chance to have three good goalies on their roster. It’s funny to say this considering the Flyers are 14-17-7, but remember all of the injuries they have faced this season. The way they are playing, it’s not hard to fathom that they can turn this team around quickly.