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Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2021 Top 25 Under 25, No. T-11: Samuel Ersson

To North America, at long last.

Zack Hill / Flyers

No. T-11: Samuel Ersson

2020-21 League/Team(s): Brynäs (SHL)
2020-21 Statistics: 2.96 GAA, .911 SV% in 42 GP
Age: 21
Acquired In: 2018 (drafted)
Ranking in Spring 2020 25 Under 25: 22

How did Ersson’s 2020-21 hockey season go? Is his stock trending up or down from where it was entering the year?

The numbers don’t end up looking terribly inspiring—they’re good but not absolutely stellar—but we can still come away from this season feeling really good about what Ersson was able to accomplish. And context is important here too. Brynäs were the worst playdriving team in the SHL, with a 43.93 CF% on the season, and gave up the most shots on goal (1702, 32.73 per game average), so Ersson was facing a much heavier workload on a nightly basis than most other goaltenders in the SHL, which makes his results look a bit more impressive. The overall team results really weren’t there, but Ersson was still a key piece to what success they did find, particularly in the post-season, as they avoided relegation.

As far as his development went, the biggest thing was that was saw his game doing a good bit of maturing (something that Ersson himself spoke on at development camp). He’s always been a goalie who tends to rely more on strong technique than stellar athleticism, and he’s continued to polish that technical game over the last season. We saw some improvements in his overall quickness, his responses to initial saves, and getting better at not overplaying certain shots. There’s a greater calmness to his game now, and he looks more effective than ever.

What are we expecting from Ersson this season? What should we be looking for from him?

Despite the success he’s already found playing in the SHL, we should resist the urge to assume that his transition to the North American game will be absolutely seamless. There may be some growing pains that he has to work through, and that’s just fine.

But, with that said, the goalie situation in Lehigh Valley is far from set, and it will come down to him battling in camp with Felix Sandstrom and Kirill Ustimenko for one of two positions with the Phantoms to start the season, and he’ll get a legitimate shot to jump right into his AHL debut at the start of the season. Our expectations for him are a little imprecise, but we just need to see him getting settled in well at the AHL level. We’re not asking for perfection, but we’d just like to see him adjusting well and continuing to improve as the season goes on.

How does Ersson fit into the Flyers’ long-term plans? Where does he stand in the Flyers’ organizational depth?

It will take him a little while to get there still, but there’s certainly room for Ersson in the Flyers’ longer term future. Outside of Carter Hart, the Flyers really aren’t locked into any other goaltenders long term, and indeed, as they've spent to the last few offseasons bringing in older backups on short term deals, it’s felt like (on top of wanting to bring in some veteran support for Hart) they’ve just been biding their time until one of these goalies in the pipeline is ready to make the jump and become their long term backup solution, once Hart is deemed mature enough to be able to fully handle that starter role without veteran support. And with Ersson ostensibly at the top of the goalie prospect depth chart, at least from a pure skill and upside perspective, he has the clearest path to that role.

Now, of course, nothing is going to be handed to him, and he’s going to have to put in some work to make it to that next level, but it remains that the organization seems high on Ersson, and he’s going to be given a very good chance to develop and hopefully hit that targeted role mark.

What do we think Ersson’s ultimate NHL upside is, and how likely is it that he gets to something approaching that?

At present, the somewhat safe projection is that Ersson looks to have very good potential to pan out as an above average backup goaltender at the NHL level. How his development continues to progress now that he’s moved over to North America will dictate if he can push that ceiling even higher (which certainly doesn't seem too lofty of a hope), but for now the reasonable hope is that he can step up as that steady backup of the future. He’ll need to put some work in to adjust to playing at the North American professional level, and to continue to polish out his game, but there’s a lot on Ersson’s skill set that suggests that he’ll be able to translate his game well to these levels. It doesn’t feel like a stretch to imagine that, if he’s able to put in some good work this season, that next season we’ll see him in the mix for some games with the Flyers.

Anything else?

I was being a bit delicate earlier. Ersson is pretty comfortably the best goaltender between himself, Sandstrom, and Ustimenko, and he really needs to be starting the season with the Phantoms, rather than with the Royals.

How We Voted: Samuel Ersson

Jason Maddie Eamon Kurt Mike Brad Thomas Kelly Drew Community
Jason Maddie Eamon Kurt Mike Brad Thomas Kelly Drew Community
15 7 12 12 17 11 15 12 17 16

How We Voted: No. 12

Jason Maddie Eamon Kurt Mike Brad Thomas Kelly Drew Community
Jason Maddie Eamon Kurt Mike Brad Thomas Kelly Drew Community
Noah Cates Tanner Laczynski Samuel Ersson Samuel Ersson Zayde Wisdom Bobby Brink Elliot Desnoyers Samuel Ersson Felix Sandstrom Connor Bunnaman

Previously in Flyers Summer 2021 Top 25 Under 25: