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May 25, 2024

Flyers stay or go: Which goalies will stay behind Sam Ersson, Ivan Fedotov?

Sam Ersson and Ivan Fedotov are expected to be the Flyers' No. 1 and 2 goalies next season, but what does the future hold for Cal Petersen, Alexei Kolosov, and Felix Sandström?

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Sam-Ersson-Flyers-Goalie.jpg Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Sam Ersson has earned his shot at being the Flyers' No. 1 goalie.

Of all the position groups on the Flyers' current roster, somehow goaltender is the most straightforward going into the 2024-25 season. 

Yeah, there was still chaos in the Philadelphia crease, as there's been for years now. But through it, one netminder stepped up to the plate in a way he was never expected to and another suddenly arrived late in the game and showed enough to at least provide general manager Danny Brière and co. with a clear 1 and 2 to move ahead with while they try to build out the rest of a developing team.

Is the situation perfect? No. It's goaltending for the Philadelphia Flyers. It's practically not allowed. But it's direct and looks dependable for the time being, which is actually a pretty considerable victory for this team at this position. Here's the rundown (with note that all contract terms and numbers are via CapFriendly):

Sam Ersson

Ersson was not supposed to play as much as he did this past season, but then he started playing better than Carter Hart, and then Hart was gone, leaving him as the go-to guy. 

And he kept answering the call again, and again, and again to keep the Flyers in the playoff race coming down to the wire. 

Granted, he struggled and started tiring out from March into April after playing more games than he ever had to that point in his career, but the 24-year old found one last gear to shift to over the final three contests to allow only three goals and take the Flyers' last gasp down to the finish line at Game 82.

They fell short, but Ersson did more than enough to earn a look as the full-time No. 1 goaltender for 2024-25, and all indications are that he will get it with a full summer now to prepare accordingly. 

Ivan Fedotov

Fedotov went from looking doomed to stay in Russia and out of the Flyers' plans one day to suddenly here in Philadelphia and ready to play the next late into the season. 

It was a wild sequence of events, and with zero time to adjust to a new league, new city, and new country, Fedotov was thrown right into the NHL fire.

The big 6-foot-7 goaltender definitely flashed potential, stoning Mathew Barzal on a breakaway and making 19 of 21 saves in relief of Ersson during April 1's 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders, but it was all a bit too much, too soon as the Flyers were spiraling. 

Fedotov was tagged for four goals on 19 shots in his lone start against Buffalo on April 5 (a 4-2 Flyers loss), then surrendered four more in relief of Ersson again during the 9-3 meltdown against Montreal on April 9. 

It was all a tough spot, and John Tortorella admitted as much and praised Fedotov for sticking with it as the head coach was pulling every last stop to try and prevent the rest of the team from spiraling. 

The 27-year old was re-upped on a two-year, $6.55 million extension ($3.275 million per) soon after to keep him in the picture as the projected No. 2 goaltender for at least next season, and will have the benefit of the summer now to finally breathe a bit and prepare for a full NHL season. 

Cal Petersen

Petersen was a cap dump on the part of the LA Kings as part of the Ivan Provorov trade from last summer and spent the bulk of the season with Lehigh Valley in the AHL.

He did have to play in spots in the middle of the season, and in two key starts in February, he held the line in a 3-2 win over the Seattle Kraken – though with the light workload of only 19 shots faced – but then cost the Flyers in a 7-6 loss to the Penguins after repeated comeback attempts on the Philadelphia skaters' parts.

The Flyers arrived at the decision that they couldn't depend on Petersen as a backup to Ersson quickly and sent him back to the AHL to give Felix Sandström a look, which didn't prove much better. 

Petersen has one more year left on his contract at a cap hit of $5 million, but rather than go the buyout route with the 29-year old, the Flyers might be considering just eating the salary for one more year, according to the Fourth Period's Anthony Di Marco.

Alexei Kolosov

Kolosov also arrived late in the season over from Belarus and joined the Phantoms immediately, going on to play in two AHL games. 

With Ersson and Fedotov expected to be the 1 and 2 up in the NHL, the idea is to have Kolosov spend next season developing in Lehigh Valley to get used to the North American ice as a 22-year old goalie prospect – a process that can take some time. 

There was a recent rumor, however, that Kolosov was struggling with homesickness and might be considering a return home overseas and to the KHL, but noise around that has died down since, so for right now, the plan to have him in Lehigh Valley next season is still in place.  

Kolosov, who the Flyers picked up in the third round of the 2021 draft at 78th overall, signed a three-year entry-level contract that went into effect last season, so he has two years left on it entering 2024-25.

Felix Sandström

Sandström got called up in March to backup Ersson after Petersen couldn't prove a dependable option and didn't fare much better. 

In three starts and five appearances in total, Sandström went 1-2-0 with an .823 save percentage and 17 goals allowed. 

It wasn't all him, but when the Flyers really needed a save, you had to hold your breath over whether he would make it. 

Sandström, 27, is an unrestricted free agent, and if Kolosov and Petersen are the goalies for the Phantoms next season, then it's hard to imagine him back in the organization. 

Carson Bjarnason, Yegor Zavragin

This is just to acknowledge the two goaltending prospects the Flyers picked up in the draft last year, as they'll be making their way through the pipeline, but won't be anywhere near ready for quite some time. 

Bjarnason, who will turn 19 at the end of June, already signed his entry-level contract, but will stay in the junior Western Hockey League next season to continue developing with the Brandon Wheat Kings. 

Zavragin, who will turn 19 in August, put up absurd numbers playing in Russia's second-tier of pro hockey – a 13-1-0 record with a fierce .943 save percentage and 1.60 goals against average – and will follow that campaign up with SKA St. Petersburg's developmental team in 2024-25. 

Bjarnason, last summer's 51st overall pick in the second round, and Zavragin, the 87th in the third, are definitely promising, but both years away.

Carter Hart

Hart and several other former players from the 2018 Canadian World Junior team have been charged with sexual assault and face a trial in a Canadian court process that is expected to take years.

He left the Flyers on an indefinite leave of absence on January 23 before the charges were announced by the London, Ontario police, and is a restricted free agent who will need a qualifying offer this summer in order for his NHL rights to be retained. 

Hart will not receive one, none of the players being charged will, and none of them will be playing in the NHL anytime soon, if ever again. 

See commissioner Gary Bettman's comments from All-Star Weekend back in late January on what were, at the time, the reported charges facing the five Canadian World Junior players just before the London Police's official announcement:

"It becomes irrelevant in terms of the timing," Bettman said. "They're all away from their teams on leave and they're all free agents. They won't be under contract after this season anyway."

"As a personal matter, if I were them, I would be focusing on defending themselves assuming the charges come down," he later added. "I would be surprised if they were playing while this is still pending."

Forwards | Defensemen | Goaltenders

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