Flyers lose out (to Penguins) on free agent goalie Eric Hartzell

Justin K. Aller

The Flyers have lost out on goalie Eric Hartzell ... to the Penguins ...

Despite a CBC report Saturday night that they were the front-runners for his services, the Flyers have lost out in the bidding for UFA college goalie Eric Hartzell. Instead, it appears as though Hartzell is heading to ... well, who else? The Pittsburgh Penguins. He signed a one-year entry-level deal with the Pens Sunday night.

This stings just a bit personally for me, considering Hartzell a) played his college career with my Quinnipiac Bobcats and b) played his first bad game in weeks on Saturday night ... in the national championship game ... which we then lost to our biggest rivals, Yale ... and c) now he's a Penguin, all in 24 hours. Hockey sucks.

But it should sting a bit for all of us, even if we weren't connected to Hartzell through our college team. Hartzell played behind a phenomenal group of defensemen at Quinnipiac this season, but he's deservedly gotten credit as their MVP in a year where they were the consensus top team in college hockey. Without Hartzell, the Bobcats would not have been the No. 1-ranked team in the nation nor would they have been in the national title game this year. He's a big goalie that uses his size well and has the tools to become a solid NHL goaltender in a few years.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC, the guy who reported Saturday night that the Flyers were front-runners, sent us a note tonight when it became evident that Hartzell was going to sign with Pittsburgh. He wanted to set the record straight that while he noted that Vancouver and Pittsburgh had interest, that the Flyers were indeed pushing hard for Hartzell but that ultimately, he just had a bad scoop and the Flyers weren't front-runners. Good on him for coming right to Flyers fans and setting that straight for us.

What's this mean for the Flyers? Well, it's pretty clear that they still had interest regardless -- Hartzell was also in their rookie camp last summer. Besides, their apparent inability to convince a top free agent that Philadelphia is a better place to begin his pro career than Pittsburgh -- and remember, with these college UFA's, money isn't an object when they're going to get the entry-level max from any team; it's all about the organization they're choosing -- it means that they're definitely still interested in adding depth at the goalie position.

The trade for Steve Mason pretty much made that obvious, but if they're pushing for a top college UFA at the goalie position as well, what does that say about their overall confidence in the guys they currently have in the system? And, just like with the Mason deal ... what does it mean for Ilya Bryzgalov?

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