Flyers Crease Shakeup – Could a trade help solidify Philadelphia’s net?

With the combined recent play of Brian Elliott and Carter Hart, Flyers fans are left wondering what happened to the goaltending duo of last season. The two have combined for a 3.35 goals against average and a .883 save percentage. Last season, this duo’s numbers were completely flip flopped with a 2.65 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. 

Needless to say, it has been a rough first half of the season for the Philadelphia goaltenders. Fingers could be pointed in varying directions from the horrible defense in front of them all the way down to the team in front of them not finding ways to score and control the game. No one could have predicted the predicament that the goaltenders have found themselves in.

Carter Hart has looked… not himself this season. That’s putting it nicely. He was arguably one of the best goaltenders on the ice last season, especially when playing at the Wells Fargo Center. We all know that the away-game Carter Hart wasn’t all that great, but we can blame that on him forgetting to pack his teddy bear on every road trip. 

Brian Elliott showed his veteranship early on in the season when he would relieve Hart in games. When called upon, Elliott has played decently as the 1B goaltender for the Flyers. Lately however, his magic has begun to fade. His experience and leadership has been second to none in developing Carter Hart into the young netminder he has become. 

With Brian Elliott showing signs of slowing down and not being able to shoulder the workload for when Carter Hart is in a funk, should Chuck Fletcher and company consider acquiring another veteran goaltender? According to TSN, there are a couple goaltenders on the trade block such as Jonathan Bernier (aged 32) and Devan Dubnyk (34). Those names are nice and all, but there’s a goaltender on my radar that would make a great addition to Hart’s development that is a little younger and even more established than Bernier and Dubnyk. 

The goaltender in question used to be a thorn in the Flyers side for ten years as a division rival. Who is it you ask? Braden Holtby of the Vancouver Canucks. There have been rumblings throughout the league that the Canucks might be shopping the goaltender as Thatcher Demko has solidified himself as the franchise goaltender that Vancouver has been missing. 

In 12 games played this season, Holtby has recorded a 4-6-2 record with a 3.57 goal against average and a .894 save percentage. Obviously those numbers aren’t phenomenal and are pretty comparable to Hart and Elliott’s, but the experience of Holtby could be crucial for the Philadelphia Flyers goal crease. 

Bringing in an established goaltender like Holtby would further help Carter Hart’s development. The two have been tied together since 2017 when Hart was playing in the World Junior Championships. The two goaltenders share the same sports psychologist and have kept in contact ever since Carter joined the NHL. Having a confidant such as Holtby could help shake Carter Hart’s nerves this season after having a rough start. 

The trade deadline is roughly two weeks away and Chuck Fletcher has apparently been making his phone calls without getting any responses back. Is a goaltender on Chuck’s radar? Probably not, but it wouldn’t hurt to look into it. Obviously Brian Elliott isn’t getting it done and there needs to be some type of mix-up in the crease. 

The biggest reason why Fletcher wouldn’t bring in Holtby is due to his contract. In this flat cap era, Fletcher has made it known that he does not want to bring on any more large contracts. With Holtby being signed through 2022 with a $4.3 million cap hit, there is no way Fletcher is making that call unless he is able to shed some dead cap space. (Looking at you Voracek!) 

According to Kevin Weekes with the NHL Network, he reports that the goaltending trade market has heated up and there is interest in Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Bernier, and Devan Dubnyk. He reported on Jonas Johansson as well, but he has since been dealt to the Colorado Avalanche. It should be an interesting trade deadline come April 12th!

Photo Credit – Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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