In the most Philadelphia Flyers way possible, the team is now without starting goaltender Carter Hart for somewhere between 2-6 weeks, per Anthony SanFilippo, following their solid start to the 2023-24 season. In a corresponding move, the Flyers called up former Los Angeles Kings shot-stopper Cal Petersen to serve as Samuel Ersson’s understudy.
It’s important to clarify that Petersen’s return to Philadelphia is not an indictment on Felix Sandstrom; the Swede was sent to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on a conditioning assignment on Oct. 31. Typically, a loan lasts two weeks, and the player (Sandstrom) will play in their assigned games before returning to the NHL. Obviously, the Flyers and Sandstrom agreed to this loan before Hart was injured, but that’s part of the problem.
Durability has always been one of Hart’s biggest question marks, and per CapFriendly’s injury log, the 25-year-old netminder has been injured 12 times since Jan. 2020. Frankly, Hart has left the Flyers high and dry a lot over the last few years, and the 2022-23 season was the only season in his professional career where he’s played over 50 regular season games.
The Flyers are no strangers to being put in precarious situations – the Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier, and Ryan Ellis injuries come to mind – but it hurts a little bit more when there’s a direct impact on a young, rebuilding team’s growth. Because Sandstrom is on a conditioning assignment, he still counts towards the NHL roster. That means the Flyers had to sacrifice Victor Mete – their only extra body on defense – to call Petersen up.
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Indeed, this has been a series of unfortunate events happening at the worst possible times, but this is often how life goes in the NHL and in professional sports. Given how well Danny Briere drafted in his first rodeo as Philadelphia’s GM, the team would be wise to double down on their youth movement and continue to build towards the future, rather than cling to an injury-prone goaltender.