We all know the Flyers goalie pool is absolutely stacked these days, starting in the AHL with Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon, and going down the list to Felix Sandstrom in Sweden, Carter Hart in juniors and Merrick Madsen in college.
One guy who often gets forgotten, however, is the University of North Dakota’s Matej Tomek. He was recruited to UND while Dave Hakstol was still there, and he was selected by the Flyers in the third round of the 2015 NHL Draft. He debuted at No. 20 in our Top 25 Under 25 list that offseason, but he hasn’t done a darn thing since.
I’m not really even exaggerating. After putting up a .928 save percentage in 33 games with the USHL’s Topeka Roadrunners in his draft year, Tomek went to North Dakota, where in two seasons he has played just ... two games.
He is clearly the odd man out in North Dakota with Cam Johnson, their starter for the last two seasons, preparing to come back for his senior season. Coach Brad Berry, who replaced Hakstol behind the Fighting Hawks bench, has also recruited two goalies behind Tomek — one who will be a freshman this fall and another who will be a freshman next fall.
Tomek has potential, but he’s just not playing with his current team. So it makes sense that he would look to leave UND, and on Tuesday morning the first step in that process took place when Tomek was taken by Waterloo in Phase II of the 2017 USHL Draft.
North Dakota goalie Matej Tomek selected 31st overall by Waterloo. Flyers draft pick.— Chris Dilks (@ChrisDilks) May 2, 2017
Any player under the age of 20 and not under protection of another USHL team is eligible to be taken in Phase II of the USHL Draft. Tomek is 19.
You probably have the same questions I did when I saw this news break this morning. It’s weird for a college player to take a step back and go back into the USHL right?
As Chris Dilks of SB Nation College Hockey explained to me, however, this would be an easy way for Tomek to transfer to a new school without missing a year of the game. Were he to transfer directly from North Dakota, he’d have to sit out a year. But if he goes back to the USHL and plays a year with Waterloo, he’d then be able to play for another school for the 2018-19 season. A school that might actually put him in net.
We’re guessing that’s what’s happening here, and that Waterloo knows of his plans, because they otherwise would not have wasted a draft pick.
Tomek also has the option to give up the NCAA route completely and go to major junior, where some team would probably love to have him. That’s what Anthony Stolarz did in 2013, when he left the University of Nebraska-Omaha to join the OHL’s London Knights after struggling through the first half of his freshman year.