February 20, 2019
Tuesday night against the Lightning, the Flyers suffered a predictable 5-2 loss to one of the best teams in the NHL. But it's what happened in net that complicates things for the Flyers as they inch toward a big decision about the future of their team.
With the NHL's trade deadline five days away, Philadelphia must decide if it is selling or buying. Even in defeat, the team remains six points back of playoff position, with hugely important games against the Canadians and Penguins (both ahead in the standings) to go before Monday's deadline.
Against Tampa, Carter Hart was pulled after surrendering three quick goals. Brian Elliott, who has been injured for most of the season was called on to relieve the rookie, just hours after being activated for the first time.
Michal Neuvirth remains on IR, but Cam Talbot, recently acquired via trade for Anthony Stolarz, will be arriving soon and will be added to the roster. Mike McKenna is also among the Flyers deep pool of NHL goalies — but he was placed on waivers Wednesday morning. Will Philly attempt or be able to move one of their four active netminders?
Here's a look at the numbers for the current foursome of goaltenders:
Elliott could be a possible trade piece as Talbot — once he figures out his visa issue — will probably become Hart's backup. (Apparently Talbot is finally in Philadelphia, so that's good). The 33-year-old would likely not bring back a big return, but he'd being back something, as teams down the stretch are always looking for goalie help.
Here's what ESPN's Ben Arledge said of the market for Elliott:
With the incredible beginning to Carter Hart's NHL career, as well as the arrival of Talbot, it seems Elliott no longer has a place with Philadelphia. He comes with a significantly lower cap hit than the previously mentioned goalies and is also in the last months of his contract. He's not going to save anyone's season, but he has a good chunk of playoff experience.
And for what it's worth, his .877 high-danger save percentage is seventh in the NHL among goalies with at least 10 games played, according to Natural StatTrick.
Like Varlamov, Elliott could be a good Plan B for a goalie-starved playoff team. If the Flyers are OK with dealing within the division, a team like the Carolina Hurricanes might make sense, giving them another option and a guy with experience beyond Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney. Both are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer. Michal Neuvirth, another Flyers free agent this summer, could also be on the move. The Edmonton Oilers could be a good spot. But the Sharks are also interesting if they opt to upgrade the backup role rather than look for a better option than Jones to start. [ESPN]
He also could, in theory, be moved after the Feb. 25 deadline, though he wouldn't be eligible to play in the postseason if he were sent to a contender.
Elliott, who saved all but one of the 23 shots he faced in his return, joins a list of other players on the block including Wayne Simmonds, Radko Gudas and Michael Raffl. Neuvirth too, though on the IR with a lower body injury since January, could also be sent packing.
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