Phantoms: Red Hot Goalies For Sale

All eyes on the net cage as Flyers and Phantoms have goalies getting healthy.

Photo: Jack Mitroka

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.

Pickard even has Gritty on his helmet! You can’t get rid of a guy like that without upsetting the hockey gods. Photo: Yahoo Canada

#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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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…


Notebook:

  • 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.

@Kram207

Featured Image by Jack Mitroka



Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey

4 replies

  1. Nicely written Kram. Keep it up, looking forward to your future write ups.

  2. The goalie situation surely creates room for all kinds of speculation. To be honest, I see no way that Hextall can have a foolproof plan for addressing the situation. There are too many unknowns at play. Let’s take an analytic look at what we DO know:

    Elliott – Playing the last year on a reasonable contract. 33 years old. Seems to be the Flyers #1 at this point. Has played over 40 games each of the previous four years, so proven reliable.

    Neuvirth – Playing the last year on a reasonable contract. 30 years old. Virtually his entire NHL career has been fraught with various injury issues.

    Stolarz – Playing on a 1-year contract with a very team friendly minor league salary. A big man coming off two recent knee surgeries.

    Lyon – One of only 2 goalies with a contract which extends past this season. 2-way this year, 1-way next year. Has been reliable at AHL level, capable fill-in at NHL level.

    Pickard – Playing on a 1-year 1-way contract. Over 80 NHL games and excelled when buried in the AHL last year.

    Hart – Entry level contract, first year professional. Hextall has insisted that Hart will not be rushed to the Flyers.

    Komm & Kasdorf – not in the conversation.

    With the facts laid out, we can start making a couple *fairly* solid assumptions: By being the senior NHL goalie with a good record, Elliott will be with the Flyers for the season. Hart has been assigned to the Phantoms which backs up Hextall’s unvarying assurance of following the slow path. Stolarz has cleared waivers and been assigned, so it can be assumed that he is currently lower in the pecking order than Pickard. That leaves Neuvirth, Pickard and Lyon in the mix for sticking with the Flyers. Someone needs to go since it is very unlikely that both the Flyers and Phantoms carry three goalies each. Pickard can be waived, but would certainly be claimed or returned to Toronto. Lyon could be waived, but the 2-year contract seems to indicate that he is/was in the longer term plan. I honestly think that Lyon would clear waivers. He is not clearly more talented than what most other teams have in their system already. I also have a nagging worry that Lyon may have been solved last year. The Marlies used cross-ice passes which seemed to expose side-to-side limitations. Hopefully that was an aberration.

    Neuvirth needs to be out of the mix, by any means available. He has not proven to be durable and by keeping him around just prolongs the uncertainty at the position. I do not know what options are open; Europe, buy-out?

    The wild card is Stolie. I think the onus is on him to prove that he can still play at a high level. Two surgeries makes the potential of a deteriorating condition a concern. Add the fact that his minor league salary is virtually negligible, I can see him being viewed as expendable in the long-range plan. Admittedly, it was preseason, but the Stolie that was in the net at the Islanders game at PPL was not the athletic big man that Phantom fans were used to seeing from 2015-16. I back that up by suggesting that the trip at the end of regulation was intentional because he knew that he wasn’t going to recover in time to prevent the wrap around from behind the net.

    So, with a lot of asterisks, my best guess is Elliott/Pickard in Philly with both looking to earn a 2019 contract. I see Lyon/Hart in Lehigh Valley with Lyon being the Flyers’ #3. If Stolie proves to be durable, kick Pickard back to Toronto and promote Lyon to Philly as the back-up.

    I am probably wrong.

    • A good way to look at each, probably, based on the contracts and the money. Now it turns out no one other than the Flyers front office realized Lyon could pass to the Phantoms without waivers. So if he can move up and down and be the ‘3’ for Philly, Hart is the ‘1’ for Allentown, Neuvirth will be injured again in 5 minutes and Stolie becomes goalie-a-non-grata. Given his contract and such, wouldn’t be surprised if he gets lent out to another team in the coming weeks.

      But, just like I said above: None of us knows. The Flyers might not even know what they’re going to do yet. We can only wait and see. Watching, “As The Goalies Turn”

Trackbacks

  1. HOCKEY NIGHT IN ALLENTOWN: “Pulling in the Same Direction” 10/12/2018

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