The Philadelphia Flyers goaltending situation last year was anything but stable, but among all this craziness there was one good thing that came out of it and that’s Carter Hart. He started the year with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and as a first time pro he struggled to some extent during the start of the year. After a couple of months, Hart got more comfortable and started showing why he has been considered one of the best goaltending prospects in the world, earning a well deserved call up in December. Hart won his NHL debut against the Detroit Red Wings on December 18th in a 3-2 victory where he made 20 saves on 22 shots, and over the course of the season played in a total of 31 NHL-games. The expectations will be even higher next year, when we assume he will be the starter and the main driver that will help this team get back into the playoffs.
By The Numbers
While Hart proved in the 30+ games he played in the last season that he is ready to be a NHL goaltender, Flyers fans must be aware that he is still only 20 years old and there will be ups and down just like with any other younger player in this league. He put up some impressive numbers since the call up and was pretty close to being a Calder Trophy finalist. Hart is already a fan favorite and his debut was one of the few bright spots of the 2018-19 season. He has all the tools to become a superstar.
Even Strength Stats
One of the Flyers’ biggest weakness the last 5 years has been their special teams and the Flyers are hoping that Hart will be a part of the solution. Hart is already a very good goaltender but there is always room for improvement. I hate the cliche “your goaltender must be your best penalty killer,” but there’s no denying that if the Flyers want to get their PK to the top they will need Hart to keep doing what he is doing: improve game by game.
Three Burning Questions
Did this player live up to our expectations for this season?
Very few Flyers prospects (if any) had higher expectations coming in to this season than Carter Hart and there were quite a lot of fans who were starting to panic when he struggled for the first few months. What some people don’t realize is that there is a big difference between playing in the WHL and the AHL/NHL. Off-ice things like living alone for the first time and moving to a new city can all play a part as well. Once he settled in he started showing what we knew all along: he is the real deal.
What do we expect from this player next season?
While he lived up to the expectations we had for him last season the expectations for next year will be even higher. He is going to be the number one goalie as a 20 year old which is a rare thing. He has shown great maturity and doesn’t let bad goals and games get to him. He is extremely composed both on and off the ice. I expect him to build on his rookie season, and hopefully keep improving and get even more consistent. I personally expect that there will be ups and downs and therefore hope we have a good backup who can help him out and be a good mentor. I’m expecting Hart to start about 50 games next year.
What would we like to see this player improve on?
What I’ve always liked with Hart is his composure and positioning. It feels like he is always in the right spot and is never caught out of position. With that said I think we can all agree that he can keep improving in pretty much everything, and a lot of the things he can improve on will come with playing against all these great players on a nightly basis, learning what certain players/teams like to do, and what their tendencies are. A couple of the Flyers’ biggest struggles the past few years has been the special teams and shootouts and both are areas where he can hopefully help.
Data courtesy of corsica.hockey