According to the team’s website, the Philadelphia Flyers have signed goaltender Felix Sandstrom to an entry-level contract. The 21-year-old Swedish netminder recently played for the SHL’s HV71 in the postseason and is expected to play for the club next season as well.
Sandstrom was the third goalie taken in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, as he was selected 70th overall by the Orange and Black after Ilya Samsonov went 22nd overall to the Washington Capitals and MacKenzie Blackwood went 42nd overall to the New Jersey Devils. Although there were several high-end goalies taken in 2015, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman had this to say about Sandstrom, who he regarded as the best option of the group at the time:
Sandstrom missed chunks of the season due to various ailments, after he came into the season as a top prospect. This lack of playing time has led to divisive stances within the industry, with some scouts claiming he’s clearly good enough to go in the top two rounds and others stating he’s more of a middle-round selection. Sandstrom has shown advanced play for several seasons and has impressive raw tools. He moves pretty well for a player his size, while not being erratic. His goaltender IQ grades high, as he tracks the puck pretty well and stays ahead of the play. Sandstrom is a roll of the dice, as its not outside the realm of possibility that he’s in the NHL within three or four years, but his lack of playing time could scare teams.
Since being taken by the Flyers in the 2015 draft, Sandstrom has split time between Brynas IF and HV71 in the SHL, Sweden’s most talented ice hockey league. After he posted a .904 save percentage and 2.61 GAA in 25 games for Brynas IF in 2015-16, Sandstrom improved to a .908 save percentage and 2.25 GAA in 22 games games for the team last season. The Flyers’ pick had a .905 save percentage and 2.87 GAA in eight games for Brynas IF before being loaned to IK Oskarshamn in the Allsvenskan (Sweden’s second-most talented ice hockey league), where he posted an .895 save percentage and 3.10 GAA in seven games. He then joined HV71, where he had a .902 save percentage and 2.58 GAA in three games during the regular season and an .885 save percentage and 3.12 GAA in one postseason appearance.
HV71’s website said the netminder was under contract with the team as recently as Tuesday. So the goaltender is now officially on the Flyers’ books, but he may not come to North America until after (most of) next season. The timing here is curious, and we may have to see how the Flyers approach their goaltending situation this summer before we know for sure where Sandstrom will be playing next year.
Statistics courtesy of Elite Prospects.