It is no secret that the Philadelphia Flyers are where they are because of goaltending. With the worst goaltending by save percentage in the entire league by more than a whole percentage point, this team is in a weird situation before the April 12 trade deadline.
Management decided to shutdown Carter Hart for a week or so, leaving him to practice with the team but not appear even as a backup in the next few games, as he tries to rejuvenate his season from catastrophe. Meanwhile, Alex Lyon and Brian Elliott are forming the weirdest tandem that is somehow getting wins on their stat sheet without even really putting in worthwhile performances.
With this goaltending triangle not really suiting what this team—who hoped for a substantial playoff appearance beyond last year’s whimper—truly needs, GM Chuck Fletcher is reportedly going shopping.
“It is my understanding that the Flyers’ front office is having that discussion internally,” LeBrun said on Tuesday during TSN’s Insider Trading segment. ”Do they go out and get goaltending help before the April 12 trade deadline and allow Carter Hart to have a bit of a reset and work on his game?
“Brian Elliott’s been a pro, but he might need help. On the flip side, what does that do to Carter Hart if you do that? So, there are pros and cons to this and that is what I believe they are discussing. The other thing is that the Flyers have to stay in the race. The next seven games before the deadline will be really important in terms of the Flyers wanting to add, no matter where it is, if they’re not playing better.
“One name to retain if they do decide to add a goalie: Jonathan Bernier, I believe, [is] on the radar of the Flyers. He is a pending unrestricted free agent for Detroit.”
As Lebrun mentioned, there are multiple paths that the Flyers can wander down. Whether it means suffering through the rest of the season with their regular tandem and praying for some league-average performance, or adding another goalie into the mix and having to have a difficult conversation, every single option carries positives and negatives. Being that risk-adverse front office never really plays out super well, and considering that the Flyers are still a very solid postseason-worthy team when it comes to their offense and a slightly below-average team defensively, if they’re able to get a jolt of stable goaltending, maybe it won’t take an insane effort to beat the Buffalo Sabres.
There are plenty of goaltender trade rumors during this weird shortened season. With some rookies growing into backup roles, such as Carolina Hurricanes’ Alex Nedeljkovic, or teams making established options available, like the Los Angeles Kings and Jonathan Quick, there could be a lot of movement before April 12. Whether it’s James Reimer, Jonathan Bernier, Chris Driedger, or Ryan Miller that the Flyers target, it can add a new dynamic to a season that is flirting with the concept of being wasted.
It should be an interesting couple of weeks.