We talked about Felix Sandstrom last week, and the state of the Flyers’ goalie prospect pipeline, and this wasn’t too long ago, so we’re not going to recycle the same “the Flyers have a starting goalie already so we don’t care about goalie prospects anymore BUT WAIT MAYBE WE SHOULD” joke and just get right to the point: the Flyers have another goalie prospect in their pipeline who just had a monster draft+1 season, and is doing well to climb up the depth chart, before even making his way over to North America. Samuel Ersson, hello!
No. T-17: Samuel Ersson
Age: 19 (10/20/1999)
Size: 6’2”, 176
Acquired Via: 2018 NHL Draft — Round 5, Pick 142
2018-19 League/Team/Statistics: Västerås IK (Allsvenskan) — .933 SV%, 1.95 GAA in 36 GP
Ranking in BSH Winter 2019 25 Under 25: 22
As we said in the introduction, Ersson had a pretty stellar season in the Allsvenskan, registering a .933 save percentage with Västerås IK, earning himself a starting gig and running with it. The team struggled in the games without him, but he provided some much needed stability for his team. And these efforts also earned him an award at the end of the season for the league’s best Junior.
He was also a key piece in Sweden’s team at the World Juniors this year. With Olle Eriksson Ek, the previous year’s returning (presumed) starter, serving a two game suspension to start the tournament, Ersson had the chance to prove that he could hold his own on the big stage. And he didn’t just do that, he cleanly stole the starting job away from Eriksson Ek, and took this increased responsibility in stride.
Individually, he had a pretty solid tournament, putting up a save percentage of .922 and a GAA of 2.23, and doing well to keep Sweden in their game while the team in front really struggled to generate offense. As such, he was rewarded with an award for being one of the top three players on his team (top goalie, in this case), and certainly turned some heads in the process.
The coming season figures to be a big one for Ersson, as he’s set to make the jump up to join Brynas of the SHL. He’s already shown that he’s mastered the Allsvenskan, that he can dominate in that league, now he’s going to have the chance to prove that he can hang at the next level. He’s likely not going to be dominant right away, that’s not really how development works, so we don’t expect that, but what we’re looking for is some level of consistency, something to prove that last season wasn’t just a flash in the pan, and that he can hold his own in one of the most difficult leagues to play in in the world. He looks to have the tools to be able to do this, so now it’s just a matter of him taking that next step.
And this is perhaps what most makes him exciting as a prospect — it isn’t just that he’s the shiny new toy or whatever, but because he hasn’t just been coasting since he was drafted. It’s not entirely fair to do this, but it’s hard not to compare Ersson and Sandstrom, but one of the biggest concerns about Sandstrom’s development is that, while he’s been fine in every league he’s played in, he’s never really pushed himself head and shoulders above his peers, and this is something Ersson has been able to do pretty immediately.
It’s likely that we won’t see Ersson for a bit — as we said, he’s going back to Sweden for at least one more season, and then we imagine he gets some time in the AHL after he eventually comes over to get used to playing on the smaller ice — but he’s still a prospect worth keeping a close eye on. Who knows, he might sneak up and insinuate himself into the mix for a backup job with the Flyers sooner than we might think.
Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2019 Top 25 Under 25: