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Flyers recall Oskar Lindblom from Phantoms, activate Anthony Stolarz and send him to Lehigh Valley

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Not quite the news we were expecting tonight, but: news!

Kate Frese / SBNation

While we were all spending our Monday evenings waiting for the Flyers to give some clarity regarding their murky goaltending situation, they’ve managed to give us something else to talk about:

Stolarz will join the Phantoms for the first time this season. Lindblom, meanwhile, will be available for Tuesday night’s game against Montreal, in which he will presumably be making his NHL debut and will be wearing number 54.

Do you have questions? So do we! Let’s walk through them.

YO OSKAR LINDBLOM IS A FLYERS!!!!!

I KNOW, RIGHT????

THAT’S SO COOL!

I AGREE!!!!

OK, but really, what prompted this? As far as we know, no forward on the Flyers was hurt on Sunday in New York, and the top three lines all seem to be faring well for themselves right now.

Great question! All does seem to be well in Flyerdom right now, which makes the timing of Lindblom’s promotion curious. The explanation that makes the most sense is that the Flyers have decided that Lindblom, the reigning forward of the year in the Swedish Hockey League, has played well enough for the Phantoms that he simply deserves a promotion. Lindblom, who recently played in the AHL All-Star game, has 16 goals and 18 assists in 54 games for the Phantoms, and has scored a goal in each of his last three games. He’s also been a good possession player — per BSH’s Brad Keffer, the Phantoms have tallied 51.3 percent of all shot attempts and 55.4 percent of scoring chances with Lindblom on the ice at 5-on-5.

Couple that with the fact that the Flyers were, prior to this move, under the roster limit — they only had 22 players on their roster, as opposed to the maximum of 23 — and there may not be more to this than “we wanted to reward Lindblom”.

But could there be more to it?

I mean, sure. Let’s blindly speculate. We do know that the Flyers are almost certainly going to trade for a goalie at some point soon — it’s at least possible that, rather than trading a draft pick, they’ll be trading a forward currently on the roster. Who that would be is anyone’s guess, but if that were the case, the Flyers would likely want another top-9 forward in their lineup, and Lindblom was who they decided would get that nod.

It’s also possible that someone in the top-9 is injured, and we just don’t know about it yet. The Flyers are always pretty cagey when it comes to disclosing injury information, and that seems to be especially true right now around the trade deadline. If this is the case, we’ll learn about it pretty soon.

It’s also possible that the Flyers are just screwing with us, knowing that we’re all a little bit on-edge right now as we wait to see what the team does to shore up its situation in net. Wouldn’t rule it out.

OK. So if it’s none of those things, where does Lindblom slot into the lineup?

That’s a very good question. Again, if there’s a top-9 injury or a trade incoming, then that would make this all a lot easier to figure. If there’s not, and this is just a merit-based call-up, it’s a bit tougher.

It seems hard to believe that Dave Hakstol would mess with either of his top two lines right now, as both the Claude Giroux/Sean Couturier/Travis Konecny line and the Jakub Voracek/Nolan Patrick/Wayne Simmonds line are playing some very good hockey at the moment. If the team does keep those units together, then the guess here (and that’s all it is, a guess) is that Lindblom would play next to Scott Laughton on the third/fourth line, with one of Michael Raffl or Jordan Weal dropping to Valtteri Filppula’s spot on the fourth/third line and one of Dale Weise or Jori Lehtera heading to the press box.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team decide that Lindblom — who, despite having greatly improved his skating ability over the years, still isn’t much of a burner — may not be best-suited on a line like Laughton’s, which largely succeeds based on speed. And though the Flyers likely wouldn’t have called Lindblom up unless they thought that he was ready for a top-9 role at the NHL level, they very well may still view Filppula as a top-9 center who Lindblom can play with.

Maybe the whole damn forward unit’s going in a blender tomorrow. We’ll find out soon enough.

OK. And Stolarz is ready to play now?

Well, not necessarily. Today’s news concerning the Flyers’ former top goalie prospect means that he can re-join the Phantoms. Ever since his pre-season injury and subsequent surgery, he’s been on season-opening injured reserve, meaning that he’s technically been with the Flyers for the entire season. Today’s news, however, suggests that Stolarz has at least reached the point in his recovery where he can begin to practice with a team; once he reached that point, the Flyers sent him down to Lehigh Valley, where he’ll prepare to return to game action and will (likely) eventually get back on the ice.

With that said, it’s unlikely that he’ll be taking the ice for a game any time soon. Stolarz has injured his same knee twice since he last played in a pro game (remember, he tore his meniscus in April before his September injury to the same knee), and it will almost certainly take him time to get back to game speed — and to get the Flyers/Phantoms to a point where they’re comfortable with him on the ice.

Ron Hextall essentially said as much last week:

In other words, today’s news likely has very little to do with the Flyers’ ongoing quest to find a healthy goaltender that can play at the NHL level in the immediate future. But it’s good news for the franchise and for Stolarz.

Let’s go the Flyers!

I agree! Now let’s wait and see what they do about the NHL goalie situation.

Here’s the full text of the Flyers’ press release about tonight’s moves:

The Philadelphia Flyers announced tonight the following transaction, according to general manager Ron Hextall:

The Flyers have recalled left wing Oskar Lindblom from their AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and have activated goaltender Anthony Stolarz from Injured, Non-Roster and loaned him to Lehigh Valley.

Lindblom will be available for Tuesday’s game vs. Montreal wearing #54, and should he be in the lineup, would be his NHL debut.

This is Lindblom’s first recall to the Flyers, who joins the team after posting 16 goals and 34 points through 54 games with Lehigh Valley, his first full season with the Phantoms. Lindblom has recorded goals in each of the last three games for the Phantoms and has points in four of his last five contests. He represented the Phantoms in the AHL All-Star Classic in late January.

Lindblom also appeared in four preseason games for the Flyers in training camp, where he recorded a goal and an assist.

Stolarz, who has spent the entire 2017-18 season recovering from left knee surgery prior to training camp in September, joins the Phantoms after missing the entire season with his injury.

Last season, Stolarz posted a 18-9-0 record with the Phantoms, while also spending significant time with the Flyers. He made his NHL debut on Nov. 27, 2016 where he stopped 29 of 32 shots to earn his first career win in a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames. In his second career NHL start, he stopped all 28 shots for a 1-0 overtime win at Detroit for his first NHL shutout… The game was also the Flyers final game at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.

Overall, he appeared in seven games for the Flyers in 2016-17 posting a 2-1-1 record with a 2.07 GAA and .928 save percentage.