Coming into the 2014-15 season, Anthony Stolarz was essentially Philadelphia's prime goaltending prospect. There was no competition, no pressure to perform based upon the stats of his teammates, just Stolarz taking the backup job for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms behind journeyman Rob Zepp for his first stint in the AHL.
"There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition. For me, I have to elevate my game. I have to step up and start producing. I want to go out this year and make a statement."
With Zepp likely gone from the Phantoms and new acquisition in NHL veteran Jason LaBarbera looking to take the starting job in Lehigh Valley, Stolarz should have more room to find his footing in the AHL under an experienced netminder. Stolarz should also benefit from new goaltender development coach Brady Robinson, friend of one of the Flyers more recent hirings in goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh.
Regardless of his struggles last season, Stolarz is one of the highest rated Flyers prospects not guarding the blue line and clearly the closest to NHL-ready of any of Philadelphia's young goaltenders. Stolarz plays a big game with his 6-foot-6, 220 pound frame and has shown many moments of brilliance that has garnered quite a bit of attention. There's no question Stolarz will have to pick up his game this season to erase the previous year from many a memory, but with one AHL year under his belt and healthy competition on the way, there's no reason the young netminder shouldn't return to form.
In the meantime, here are some highlights from Stolarz's performance in his appearance for Team USA in the U20 tournament back in 2013 that includes six shootout stops, with two coming against breakout Chicago Blackhawk rookie Teuvo Teravainen:
How we voted for Anthony Stolarz:
Who we voted for at No. 12:
|Nicolas Aube-Kubel||Nicolas Aube-Kubel||Travis Konecny||Anthony Stolarz||Anthony Stolarz||Mark Alt||Mark Alt||Taylor Leier||Nick Cousins||Tyrell Goulbourne||Anthony Stolarz||Nick Cousins|