Philadelphia Flyers: Carter Hart is the steal of the 2016 NHL Draft

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Carter Hart’s emergence changed everything for the Philadelphia Flyers.

When fans collectively look back at the 2016 NHL Entry Drat, one question will rise above all others: How the heck did the Philadelphia Flyers land Carter Hart in the second round?

Now granted, I highly doubt the Sherwood Park, Alberta native would have been drafted above Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine, or even Matthew Tkachuk – who somehow dropped to sixth overall – but what about Olli Juolevi, Jesse Puljujarvi, or even Pierre-Luc Dubois? Wouldn’t the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Cannucks, and Columbus Blue Jackets rather have the 19th best players under 25 regardless of position?

*sigh* I digress.

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At 22-years-old, Carter Hart is a revelation. He’s shored up the Flyers’ goaltending issues, allowed Brian Elliott to shift into a much more appropriate role as a change of pace netminder, and by all accounts will one day be considered the best goalie in the entire NHL – even if the NHL Network erroneously opted to exclude him from their top 10 goalies list last month.

In 2019-20, Hart was shot on 1,100 times and stopped 1005 of them for a 91.4 save percentage. While that mark only ranked 27th overall league-wide – a noticeable downgrade from 2019-20 William M. Jennings Trophy winners Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak – Hart’s GAA (2.42) ranked 10th overall and his 24 wins ranked ninth – creating a more three-dimensional image of one of the Flyers’ best players.

On the ice, Hart played with a certain verve that kept the fans engaged and the Flyers competitive. His ability to make highlight-reel saves kept the Flyers competitive in all 40 of his starts; well, most of them, at least. Outside of a few ugly October outings to start out the 2019-20 season, Hart only gave up four or more goals in nine of his final 34 appearances.

Fun fact: Hart had the same number of games with one or less goal against (13) on the season as he had games with four or more goals allowed (13).

See what I mean? When Hart is on, he’s a ton of fun to watch regardless of where your fan allegiance lies.

Unsurprisingly, Hart is the most prolific goalie from his draft class and one of only 11 players regardless of position to hold a points share of over 10 according to Pro Hockey Reference. I mean my goodness, there’s only one other goalie selected in Hart’s entire class, Colorado Avalanche fifth-round pick Adam Werner, who has even appeared in an NHL game four years removed from draft night – which is notable considering three other goalies – Tyler Parsons, Filip Gustavsson, and Evan Fitzpatrick – were also selected in the second round.

Now granted, some of these players can still turn out to be good pros, but it really says something that the Flyers were able to land Hart 48th overall after selecting two other players in Russian center German Rubtsov and Canadian forward Pascal Laberge beforehand.

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As crazy as it may sound, there have only been five goalies selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in the last decade, with only one – 2020 Nashville Predators selectee Iaroslav Askarov – being selected inside the top 15. Chalk it up to the volatility of the position or the sheer number of quality goalies already in the NHL eager to sign long-term deals, but for whatever reason, teams have been far more willing to select a sharp-shooting forward with upside over a goaltender regardless of experience. With that being said, if teams were allowed to re-draft the 2016 NHL Draft, it’s hard to imagine the Philadelphia Flyers stealing Carter Hart again in the late 40s. Heck, they may not even be able to land the best young goalie in the game at 22, let alone outside the top 10.