The Philadelphia Flyers will need to offer a contract to someone to back up Carter Hart next season, and incumbent Brian Elliott is the only logical option.
The Philadelphia Flyers might get back to action at some point to conclude the 2019-20 NHL season. The league’s calendar will turn eventually; however, and the Flyers find themselves without another goaltender under contract to back up incumbent starter/franchise savior Carter Hart.
In other words, welcome back Brian Elliott for you fourth season as a Flyer, as the team will lock him in once again before he becomes a free agent. At least, that’s what seemingly has to happen, based on what the goaltending market and the Flyers’ salary cap situation looks like.
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The team is fortunate that the presence of Hart means that they don’t have to spend all too much on another goalie, and they wouldn’t be able to afford a big salary hit on one anyway. Plus, the top free agent netminders like Braden Holtby and Robin Lehner wouldn’t be interested in coming to a place with a rising star like Hart to begin with, so we can immediately scratch off everyone that fits this mold.
What the Flyers are left with is a group that includes Elliott, Cam Talbot (whom the Flyers already passed over last year after his cup of coffee in town), and some serviceable but extremely unsexy veterans like Michael Hutchinson, Anton Khudobin, and Aaron Dell. I could see the Flyers making a play for someone like this if Elliott proves harder to sign than anticipated, but I believed that the team would rather bring back the guy that they’re already familiar with instead of a new face that doesn’t clearly represent an upgrade.
One of the few seemingly better options who will hit the market this offseason is Thomas Greiss, though even his somewhat manageable $3 million-ish cap hit would probably be too much for the Flyers. At any rate, it’s a murky situation because we simply don’t know what the salary cap next year (and beyond) will look like yet.
As for Elliott, he essentially provided the Flyers with what they needed this year. His overall numbers might not look good, but he stood tall during the most critical stretch of the season while Hart was out with an injury. Most importantly, Elliott avoided injury himself, and we wouldn’t be having the conversation about bringing him back if he had spent time on the injured list this year.
Alex Lyon is also a pending UFA, and it remains to be seen if the Flyers decide to bring him back as organizational depth or not. Even if they do, he isn’t a real option to serve as Hart’s full-time backup; no offense to the young man.
We can essentially just employ Occam’s razor to the Flyers’ goaltending situation for 2020-21. The team doesn’t need to overthink it. Carter Hart is the guy, and they will only need a capable backup for 30 games or so. Brian Elliott just showed that he is still reliable enough to get the job done, and the team will be fine bringing him back if the price is right. Honestly, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be.
Just like the Eagles’ quarterback situation, the Flyers’ backup goaltender isn’t a huge deal unless something happens to the starter. It seems to me that everyone involved should be content with the return of Brian Elliott for next season. Nothing else makes as much sense.