Since Ron Hextall, the Philadelphia Flyers have been a goalie graveyard and turnstile. The Flyers just seemed to be a goalie away quite a few times. Now that a potential franchise goalie has emerged over the last few years, it seems like the entire rest of the team are the missing components. While Flyers General Manager, Danny Briere, will be listening to offers, Carter Hart should not be moved for less than a top-five pick in the draft, a player to speed up the rebuild timeline like Hart would, and a high-end prospect.
The Flyers have had 36 goalies since the start of the 2000’s. We also can’t forget Carter Hart’s first year in the league, when the Flyers had eight starting goalies in one season. While Sam Ersson has shown some promise to be a potential starting goalie in the NHL, Hart has proven to be the real deal and someone to build around.
Carter Hart has only had one season where the Flyers were a legitimate threat in the playoffs. Since then, the Flyers weren’t good enough to contend and not bad enough to tank for a top pick. Last season was the first of the rebuild and Hart was able to manage a 0.907 save percentage and 2.94 goals-against-average in 55 games. Hart also faced more shots this season than he has in any other season in his career. Hart also set a new career-high in shutouts with two. In 54 starts, Hart had 24 quality starts with 11 really bad starts. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad, but Hart’s good generally outweighed the bad, especially on a team of this low quality, even if it didn’t pay off in the win column all the time.
Most teams usually find all the pieces they need before finding the franchise goalie. As we have seen in this year’s playoffs, goalie play is important to a team looking to contend, and sometimes you have to commit to a guy to really reap the rewards. The Flyers can do exactly that. At 24, Hart is not even close to being in his prime yet and fits the timeline. Whether or not the Flyers choose to move Hart or try to maximize his value down the line, the right move is to keep Hart on this team now.
Obviously, the above statement only applies if Hart decides he himself wants to continue being a Flyer after the upcoming season, and re-signing Hart should be at the top of Briere’s to-do list. This is especially important as Hart can be expected to earn a deal worth around $6 million – cheap for a higher-end starter. Hart has proved he can be the guy, but not that he can be the guy consistently. Any team pushing for Hart will most likely give him a bridge deal to allow him to prove he is the franchise goalie many people believe he can be.
Year two under Head Coach John Tortorella should help this team take another step forward. If the Flyers can maintain some pressure in the offensive zone and not get hemmed in their own as frequently as they did last season, Hart could be convinced to stay past next season. If not, move him at the deadline.
Nevertheless, Hart is not to be moved unless you get a top-five pick or a player that can help significantly speed up your rebuild. The Flyers could use a top-line scoring winger or a top defenseman. Only time will tell, but there are going be a ton of rumors until something happens.