Philadelphia Flyers: Who Will Back Up Carter Hart Next Season?

Carter Hart #79, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Carter Hart #79, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Flyers might need a new backup goalie next season?

With the Philadelphia Flyers finding the franchise goalie they’ve coveted for decades, the only goaltending question in Philadelphia these days is who will back up Carter Hart next season?

Drafted 48th overall by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL Draft, Carter Hart has excelled almost instantly with the Flyers, registering a .917% save percentage in 31 games during his rookie season and a .914% save percentage in 43 games this year. With the expectation that Hart will only improve on those numbers in years to come, Flyer fans have turned their attention to the back up goaltender, so let’s take a look at some candidates.

The first candidate I’d like to look at is Braden Holtby. Yes, former Stanley Cup Champion Braden Holtby. Although he’s just 30 years old and will likely get an opportunity to start, I believe could be a perfect fit in Philly.

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Holtby is coming off a third consecutive season in which his save percentage was not higher than .911% and his GAA finished at 3.11, having not been under 2.82 for a season in his last three years. At times this season Holtby looked bad, like really bad, but somehow managed to make the NHL All-Star game.

There’s no doubting that he’s ultimately been replaced by young stud net minder Ilya Samsonov and the writing his probably on the wall for the veteran net minder in the nation’s capital.

The main reason I think Holtby could be a pick up for Philly is because of his growing relationship with Hart as they share the same Sports Psychologist in John Stevenson. After Hart lost to the United States in the IIHF World Juniors in a shoot-out, Holtby called Hart and encouraged him to keep his head up while also joking about the Flyers/Caps rivalry.

As far as cap hit, Holtby made $5 million in his last year of his deal but considering his numbers over the last three seasons I don’t think its unfathomable for the Flyers to bring him in between the $2.5 and $3.5 million range. It would make sense as Hart is presumably still adjusting to the NHL and at 22 I’m not sure you want him playing 60 or more games in a season.

I believe the system Flyers Head Coach Alain Vigneault has implemented will work to the advantage of Holtby and if we saw a split of 50 to 55 games for Hart and 32 to 37 games for Holtby it would be a stellar advantage for the Philadelphia Flyers to have potentially the best goaltending tandem in the NHL.

Next up is 34 year old German net minder Thomas Greiss who has played the last five seasons with another Metro division rival in the New York Islanders. Right off the bat Greiss will no doubt be a cheaper option than formerly mentioned Braden Holtby so that alone could potentially make him a better bet to back up Carter Hart.

Greiss has experience splitting time in goal as he split time with three different goalies over the last three seasons while in New York. Splitting time with Jaroslav Halak, Robin Lehner, and Simeon Varlamov. During all three of those seasons Greiss was more seen as a backup while occasionally splitting starts during hot and cold streaks.

Having completed his three year deal with the Islanders with an average cap hit of $3,333,333, one would think Greiss could receive less money at 34 years old and a multi-year deal may appeal to him. I’m thinking a potential deal could look like $2-$2.5 million over two years, which happens to be just about what the Flyers are paying the next candidate on the list.

Lastly and potentially the most like scenario would be to bring back veteran net minder, Brian Elliott. The 35 year old will have completed his third season with the Flyers and will have finished his one year deal where he made $2 million.

It’ll be hard to argue Elliott deserves a raise given his play and also having just turned 35 in April will make that argument even tougher. Elliott does however bring stability and the much needed veteran mentorship for Carter Hart while also still proving to be productive in the 31 games he played as Hart’s back up this season for the Flyers.

Another in-house alternative but less likely would be to re-sign AHL goaltender Alex Lyon. I personally would be less comfortable with this as he did not fare well during his two starts in 2018-19. Having said that, a new coaching staff and a better roster will help any goalie perform better and I believe he could be signed to a very cheap deal that could benefit the Flyers for at least a season.

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With the Flyers minor league affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms potentially using two prospect net minders next season in Felix Sandstrom and Kirill Ustimenko, Lyon is sort of in limbo at the moment. Who would you like to see the Flyers go after to back up phenom goalie, Carter Hart?