Flyers Goalie Position Remains Unclear for 2017-18 Season
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
CHICAGO — The last time the Flyers saw Michal Neuvirth on the ice he was laying flat on his back having just passed out in the middle of an April 1 game against the New Jersey Devils.
The ailment that time was a chest cold that got so bad he lost consciousness and suffered a concussion when the back of his head hit the ice, the scariest incident in a long line of injuries for the talented goalie.
Making him even less reliable, his .891 save percentage last season was worst of any goalie in the league who had played in at least 15 games. In the right scenario, general manager Ron Hextall thinks he’s a great fit.
“We expect to do a platoon,” Hextall reiterated. “Neuvy’s too good to say he’s your backup, he’s gonna play 20 games. He’s too good.”
On the other hand, Hextall left Neuvirth unprotected in the Vegas expansion draft and instead opted to protect Anthony Stolarz. The 2012 second-round pick ended his season early needing knee surgery, but is on schedule in his rehab.
Stolarz, 23, had terrific numbers last season with a 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in seven NHL games, but Hextall wants to bring in someone else.
“We’ll see if we find an option for us that’s better for us short-term,” Hextall said. “Stolie’s an option. Is he the best option? I don’t know if I can quite say that. He’s young. Neuvy, we all know the history of injuries. I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with Stolie and him given Neuvy’s history of injuries and Stolie’s inexperience putting them both together.”
This isn’t like years past when the Flyers need a goalie, though.
Hextall doesn’t want a long-term option. Prospects Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom are coming. The hope is that one will turn out to be a franchise goalie. Hart, last year’s Canadian Hockey League goalie of the year, had even better numbers this season than last. Sandstrom played great in the Swedish Hockey League and re-upped for one more year, something Hextall, “had no issue with.”
So what next?