All eyes on the net cage as Flyers and Phantoms have goalies getting healthy.
I’m not even sure the Flyers know what they’re going to do, yet.
Of course, they have a plan. And, beat writers from Philadelphia to the Lehigh Valley will put forth scenarios and possibilities. But nobody really knows. It’s by design, I think. But, before we get to that, let’s take a look at the players:
#37 Brian Elliott – Flyers
Elliott was signed by the Flyers prior to the start of the 2017-2018 season. He has fully recovered from injuries suffered last season and has assumed the role of #1 goalie in Philadelphia.
#33 Calvin Pickard – Flyers
The 26-year-old Moncton native was claimed on waivers from Toronto as they attempted to place him on their Calder-Cup-Winning AHL Marlies squad. He’ll need to remain in Philadelphia for 10 games or 30 days before he can be sent to Lehigh Valley. However, the Flyers have insinuated that they would be happy with Pickard as Elliott’s backup for the entire season, so a trip to Allentown doesn’t seem to be in the cards. He should get his first NHL game action for this season in the coming week. He has spent time with Colorado over parts of three seasons, including 50 games in 2016-17.
#30 Michal Neuvirth – Flyers/IR
The oft-injured, veteran Czech netminder is on the mend. He has been practicing with the team and could be ready to be activated as soon as today. Forward James van Riemsdyk has been added to the IR with a 4-6 week knee injury, which theoretically provides the roster space. The Flyers don’t need a forward replacement just yet as Jordan Weal and the already-waiver’d Dale Weise are already with the Flyers in reserve. It’s not known how long the Flyers would be happy carrying three goalies. Also, Weise could come to the Phantoms any time should the Flyers prefer to activate Corban Knight, who has begun skating as he recovers from his pre-season injury. Another extended road trip, and the Flyers might prefer a second reserve forward to a third goalie.
#37 Jason Kasdorf – Phantoms/Released
Kasdorf served as a reserve goalie for the preseason and opening game for the Phantoms and was recently released from his PTO contract. The RPI product played last season in Cincinnati, but does have AHL experience with Rochester. He’ll look to catch on with an ECHL or AHL club.
#41 Anthony Stolarz – Phantoms
“Stolie The Goalie” is back following extensive surgery and rehabilitation for his knee(s). The 6’6″ Edison, NJ native looks to pick up where he left off having started 29 games with the Phantoms and 7 with the Flyers during the 2016-17 season. He cleared waivers last week and was officially loaned to the Phantoms. He’s currently backing up…
#31 Carter Hart – Phantoms
The rookie phenom and top prospect just turned 20 and assumes the primary net position in Allentown–for now. To the consternation of Flyers fans everywhere, the organization wants him to get regular professional experience in the AHL prior to his ascension. The jump to the AHL from juniors is sometimes bigger than players–and fans–anticipate. While Hart has looked good early on, the future is unwritten and he’ll have to earn it from here on out–not just the promotion, but playing time as well. For better or worse, he’ll likely be the story of the year for the talented 2018-19 Phantoms team.
#34 Alex Lyon – Phantoms (Flyers IR)
“The one who roared” is already “in the building” with the Phantoms, but is not healthy enough to return from a preseason injury–yet. He could be ready as soon as the end of the week, although next week might be more realistic. While the Phantoms have no roster limits, it would be somewhat unusual for them to carry three goalies for any length of time–just as it would be for the Flyers with Elliott, Neuvirth, Pickard. Lyon will have to pass through waivers before he can be assigned to the Phantoms, anyway, and with the recent goalie injuries in the NHL and AHL there may be some possibility he gets selected. Neither Stolarz nor Lyon can be assigned to ECHL Reading without their consent, other than a rehabilitation assignment.
#33 Brandon Komm – Reading Royals
Komm is on an AHL contract and has been loaned to Reading. He performed well in preseason action with the Phantoms. He spent 2017-18 bouncing around the ECHL, logging 29 starts with four teams.
As I opined above, it is my thought that the Flyers will wait and make each subsequent roster move regarding goalies only when they really have to. They wanted depth bad enough to select Pickard even with the knowledge that injuries to Lyon and Neuvirth were not severe. Of course they didn’t know for sure that Stolarz–or Lyon upcoming for that matter–would pass through waivers. It is a smart strategy–especially to avoid a scenario where you would lose both, given that it’s what happened to Toronto as both guys they had tabbed for AHL were selected. Still we could see an AHL goalie loaned to another team while remaining property of the Flyers–or we could see a trade if one of these guys is for sale! We’ll await happenings, and see how the Flyers react.
And so we wait. As we do, here are the questions I’m asking myself with each passing Flyers and Phantoms game:
- How good is Pickard? Indeed he played well for the Marlies last season, and the Flyers scouts have liked him. How will he look playing in Philadelphia? Will the Flyers continue to like him that much after a few games and his 30-day roster requirement has expired?
- How long can Neuvirth stay healthy? Indeed it has been a problem throughout his career. He’s good enough for the Flyers to have paid him and for them to keep him around–when healthy. But what happens with the next injury? When will it happen? How bad will it be?
- How ready is Stolarz? Stolie missed almost the entire season last year. Is he ready for a half-share workload? Is he ready to be back in the NHL as a backup? Does he need more playing time to regain sharpness? Will the Phantoms/Flyers be willing to give him that playing time at the expense of the top prospect?
- When will Lyon be ready? And, when will they put him on waivers? Will they try to time it out somehow? Reports from the press box had him really excited to be back in the PPL Center feeling the energy of the crowd–but what happens if he’s third in the pecking order behind Carter and Stolarz? Will we get to hear the lion roar in the arena again?
- How much load can Carter Hart carry? As I said, they’ll want him to get playing time–but certainly they don’t want him to get frustrated or injured or beat up. It’s a long season with lots of hockey to play. How will they split the playing time with the backup(s) if Hart is playing really well? What if he’s not? Will they let him play is way out of it as the anointed starter, or will they back off into a time-share while he works things out?
Never a dull moment…
- The JvR injury immediately made me think of whom the Phantoms might send up. It’s awfully early in the season to make judgments, after just one game, but Nic Aube-Kubel can play either wing and could be sent back without waivers. He wouldn’t need to fill a special teams spot, as Lindblom has been tabbed for that duty on PP2 in place of JvR for the Flyers. Then again, I’m not sure how quickly Corban Knight will be available or if they’ll keep him or try to send him through waivers.
- Much consternation among the fan base about ushers and seating and access to the players tunnel. I’ll not weigh in on any specifics because I’m not familiar, but I will say the whole thing reminds me of the fact that the arena is not run by the Phantoms. Ushers, bartenders, security, and concessions are all part of the Spectra arm of Comcast arena management, or sub-contractors thereof. Sometimes some of the disconnect can be the fact that the Phantoms want what’s best for the fans, but much of the game-day staff isn’t under their direct control. That doesn’t make problems acceptable, just something to remember when navigating the hierarchy. There are problems even over at the IronPigs where they DO control all of the game-day personnel–it’s got to be worse with an extra layer of management.
- I will say that I appreciate the in-game announcement for folks to stay in their seats. It’s not perfect, but it does reach more people. Now for the ushers: Please don’t make exceptions! I missed the lead-up to a goal last weekend because a woman convinced the usher that she was “just right here”–then she proceeded to saunter down six rows and slowly take her seat. Look, the back five rows pay the same for tickets as the rest of them, all the way up to row 2. Wait means wait.
- The fifth-anniversary jerseys were received more positively than negatively, despite my personal alignment with the latter. They will be worn again during the anniversary celebration weekend, 12/28 and 12/29. They will be auctioned off “following” the game on the 29th–I assume a live auction and there is no game the next day; but I’ve been deceived before, following could mean any time or even online.
- Reece Willcox remains out with an injury suffered in the preseason game 9/28. I’m not expecting him back this weekend. However, it does look promising for F Taylor Leier and D Philip Samuelsson.
- Where Are They Now? Department: G John Muse is with Wilkes-Barre. He is also caught in a three-way goalie jam with just assigned Tristan Jarry and Anthony Peters, who has so far looked good for the flightless birds. G Dustin Tokarski is with the Rangers organization and already has a game under his belt with AHL Hartford.
More later–looking forward to another ‘Hockey Night’ as we begin a home-home with Springfield on Friday at the PPL Center.
Featured Image by Jack Mitroka