Flyers Need to Figure Out Their Backup Goaltender Situation

The Flyers need to determine how they will approach their goaltending situation after Cal Petersen was shaky against the Penguins.
The Flyers need to determine how they will approach their goaltending situation after Cal Petersen was shaky against the Penguins. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While every sport is a team sport, depending on the abilities of all the players combined, there are certain ones where it can come down to one player, especially if it comes down to confidence. If a pitcher has lost theirs on the mound, they will surrender the game. If a quarterback cannot get in the perfect headspace, they will not be able to compete in a clutch situation. If a goalie doesn't believe in himself (or herself), they won't be able to stop a beachball heading towards the net.

This could be seen in Flyers' netminder Cal Petersen during Sunday's game against the Penguins. True, he was facing off against future hall of famers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. However, you could see it in his body language. He had no confidence in himself. He was a beaten man, no matter how many goals his teammates put up.

Right now, the Flyers are in a bind. Carter Hart is probably done in Philadelphia. Sam Ersson is playing well enough as a rookie, and a lot is being asked of him. Petersen has been a disaster in the net for a veteran with a lot of NHL experience. Down in the AHL, the Flyers have Felix Sandstrom, who is about as effective in net as Petersen, without the heavy price tag.

For the Flyers moving forward, they have to fix their goalie situation. It doesn't matter who they acquire/give up at the trade deadline, who they sign in the offseason, or what prospects they bring up. If they can't secure their goalie situation, everything they do will be for naught. Here are a few things that Flyers GM Daniel Briere can do to help improve this team for the long term in the net.

Buyout Petersen

Cut ties with him this offseason. We don't need this albatross and his $5 million salary around our necks for another year. When he was acquired, it was hoped he needed a change of scenery. Nope. He needs a change of career. He is not cutting it, and the Flyers, at this point, might be better with Gritty in the net. Buy him out.

Free Agent Vets?

Honestly, you aren't going to find our long-term solution here. Either you find someone to act as a mentor to Ersson or be a backup until one of the prospects is available. The problem is that everyone has already locked up all the good goalies. Either you are going to get the shell of a goalie who was good a while ago (Cam Talbot, Antti Raanta, Marc Andre Fleury) or a reclamation project (Alex Nedeljkovic, Anthony Stolarz, Ilya Samsonov).

The best free agent the Flyers probably could get might be former Flyer Martin Jones. While he had a rough season in Philadelphia a few years ago, he has had a bounce-back effort with the Seattle Kraken and the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was a solid mentor to Hart and could do the same for Ersson in a pinch.

Time to Bring Up the Prospects

The Flyers have been stocking up on goaltending prospects for a while now. It is time to see if they can perform. If they aren't NHL-ready yet, can they handle the quality of players at the AHL level?

Carson Bjarnason and Yegor Zavragin were drafted this past year and are likely a few years away from being at that level. However, some goalies are ready before they are 20. Let's see what a good rookie camp could do for them this summer.

Since Ivan Fedotov would need a Navy Seal team to break him out of Russia at this point, the Flyers would have to see if they could bring Alexei Kolosov over. Kolosov, a Belorussian, has been tearing up the KHL for Minsk. This season, he has a 2.40 GAA with a .907 save percentage in 46 games. He could be the answer for the team. A duo of Kolosov and Ersson in the net could be rather formidable.

Ersson has performed well so far this year. A lot has been asked of him, and he's doing his job well on a team that is still rebuilding. The backup goaltender situation has to become clearer before this team can move forward.