After what seems like an eternity of uncertainty between the Flyers’ goal posts, things are now finally starting to look up. The Flyers’ minor league affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, are blessed with the task of figuring out who their starting goaltender will be for the upcoming season. They have many options to choose from, and boy does that feel good to say. The Flyers organization has six goalies currently under contract, three of whom can play in Lehigh Valley during the 2018-19 season. Of the other three, the odd man out is Felix Sandström, who is playing in the SHL. The final two are Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, both of whom will be playing in the NHL this coming year. With the NHL spots filled, this leaves two openings in the AHL for the three candidates to battle over.
An obvious frontrunner for the Phantom’s starting netminder job is Alex Lyon. The former Yale student saw the brunt of action in the past two seasons for the Phantoms, playing 38 games during the 2017-18 season and setting personal records in both save percentage (.928) and goals allowed (2.36 GAA). The Flyers organization also turned to Lyon last season. Lyon played 11 games with the big club and, for the most part, held his own.
Another obvious candidate is longtime Phantoms goalie Anthony Stolarz. Stolarz was the Phantom’s starting goaltender from the 2014-15 season up until this past season when he suffered a torn meniscus that sidelined him for all but one AHL game. In the three seasons prior to his injury, Stolarz averaged a .910 save percentage and 2.93 GAA. The Phantoms’ familiarity with Stolarz may give him an edge over a goalie like Carter Hart, who is just coming out of juniors.
Fresh out of the WHL is young goalie prospect, Carter Hart. Hart is my favorite to become the Phantoms’ starting goaltender. It feels silly to call him a dark horse, but as a young 20-year-old with no professional experience, the jump from junior to professional hockey could be a bit jarring. However, I think Carter will take it in stride. Over the past four seasons in Everett, Hart averaged a .926 save percentage and a GAA of 2.00. During the 2017-18 season, Hart had one of the best seasons in WHL goalie history and recorded more shutouts (7) than he did losses (6). Although the transition to professional hockey won’t be easy, Hart has shown time and time again that he has the skill and maturity to compete at a professional level, making him an obvious candidate to start between the pipes for Lehigh Valley.
Featured image by sportsnet.ca
Noah is a lifelong Flyers fan who loves the sport of hockey almost as much as the orange and black. He is currently studying journalism and media studies at West Chester University.