After losing most of last season to a knee injury, 24-year-old New Jersey native Alex Lyon could have a huge 2017-2018 season for the Philadelphia Flyers.
He had surgery on his meniscus shortly before training camp that kept him out for nearly the entire season. Stolarz had a brief rehab stint in the ECHL, but put up a less than ideal 3.02 GAA and a .902 save percentage over three games.
But Stolarz has now had a full offseason to fully recover and get to 100 percent. And a healthy Anthony Stolarz is a force to be reckoned with.
In his short time in the NHL, the 6-foot-6, 210-pound goaltender has impressed with his play, as Stolarz posted a 2.07 GAA with a .920 save percentage in seven games with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2016-2017 season. He also posted a shutout overtime performance against Detroit in December 2016.
While his time with the Flyers has been brief, the numbers he’s posted in the NHL were better than ones he posted in the AHL. In the 2015-2016 season, his best so far in the AHL, Stolarz averaged a 2.60 GAA with a .916 save percentage. By contrast, the numbers he’s put up in the NHL thus far have been better than any of his junior league numbers, as well. This could suggest that Stolarz is willing and able to rise to the occasion when called upon, but again he did just play seven games.
Flyers’ general manager Ron Hextall also showed faith in the young goaltender by extending a qualifying offer to him this offseason. Hextall then signed him to a one-year deal on July 18th. With Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth, Alex Lyon, and Carter Hart already in tow, one has to wonder why Hextall would re-sign Stolarz with an already crowded net? Though Hart may start the season out in the ECHL, I wouldn’t expect him to stay there very long given his elite talent and consistency in improving his numbers throughout his junior hockey league career. But then again, Hextall wouldn’t sign Stolarz if he didn’t have a plan for him.
Meniscus injuries are very common among athletes and fortunately, Stolarz only had his meniscus repaired, not a partial meniscectomy. According to this study done in 2010 by Sage Journals, 96.2 percent of the athletes who’ve undergone a meniscus repair surgery instead of a partial meniscectomy returned to pre-injury health, as opposed to only 50 percent who received the meniscectomy over the repair surgery. A good sign for Stolarz going into 2018.
Stolarz, or “Stolie the Goalie” as he’s known, has the ability to be a solid starter or very good backup in the NHL in my opinion. He also plays with a chip on his shoulder, as Stolarz once body-checked Hershey Bears forward Chris Bourque for skating across his crease in December 2015. I have no doubt Flyers fans will love his attitude on the ice. As for his play, Stolarz was dominant at times in 2016-2017. I think he’ll return to form and show he’s not to be forgotten about come training camp.