Brian Elliott is no stranger to the phrases “never give up” and “hard work pays off.” Elliott, drafted in 2003, spent most of his young career in the Senators’ farm system. It seemed that he would be a career minor leaguer or, at best, a backup in the NHL. He finally got an opportunity when Ray Emery went down with an injury. However, he was quickly sent back down once Emery could retake the net.
Not until the 2009 season did Elliott get a real chance to be a starting goaltender in the NHL. With Ottawa moving towards a rebuild, Elliott shined and quickly became the number one starter with the Senators. Six long years and Elliott was finally able to embark on a “rookie” season.
Elliott won 29 games in 2009-10 with an impressive 2.57 GAA and a .909 save percentage. As the rebuild continued in Ottawa, the Senators dealt Elliott to Colorado for a quick stint at the trade deadline. Then, the St. Louis Blues signed him in 2011. He had some good seasons with the Blues, winning over 100 games from 2011-2016. Elliott also had a brief stint with the Calgary Flames before eventually signing with the Flyers in 2017.
Brian Elliot: More than a Backup
Elliott’s time with the Flyers has been one of stability. He is the perfect backup to Carter Hart. On the flip side, he can play as a number one goaltender when he is called upon. Having this luxury in Elliott is a huge plus if the Flyers, very soon, want to make a cup run. We often get caught up in wins and loses and all statistics in general, but having Brian Elliott is priceless.
In today’s NHL, it is a huge key to have two goaltenders that can play for an extended stretch. Elliott has mentored a young 23-year-old Carter Hart. There are many ups and downs a young goalie will go through in their career. Elliott has been through those challenges. His experiences can only make Hart even better than he is.
With a condensed schedule and shortened season, both Hart and Elliott must play at key points. Many teams are playing three or four games a week in most cases. I can only think of a few teams with a near-perfect goaltending duo like the Flyers have. If we moved the time machine back a decade or two ago, this could be a potential problem for teams. Watching and following the NHL for 40+ years, I witnessed a team headed into the playoffs make clear who their starter was and rode that goalie, most of the playoffs, win or lose.
Clearly, Carter Hart is the number one, but it’s special, come playoff time to put Brian Elliott in, like a spot start in baseball, and not miss a beat. The Flyers did this in last year’s playoffs along with a few other teams. We are creatures of habit, set in our ways in many things in life. In the NHL, we were always led to believe you need to announce a clear number one headed into the playoffs.
I would keep Brian Elliott here for as long as possible. He is irreplaceable, not just wins and losses but having a positive presence around where two guys can play and not have one whining or fearful of losing his job. We have a good one in Brian Elliott as a man with a long journey up to the NHL, switching teams, being a starter than a backup, and not complaining one time or causing problems with teammates, all while posting over 240 career wins. Be thankful we have the “Moose” here in Philadelphia.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire