By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
The Philadelphia Flyers are waiting patiently for a couple big name prospects, mainly in the goalie department. With Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott signed as stopgaps for the next two years, it gives some of the best prospects a chance to continue to develop.
A big debate among Flyers fans is which of Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom will be “the guy” moving forward. Both prospects on paper are neck and neck, with Sandstrom outshining Hart internationally, and Hart showing up Sandstrom for their respective club teams.
The major difference is where they are playing. Currently Hart (19) is playing for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL, playing with talented teenagers. On the other hand, Sandstrom (20) is playing for Brynas IF of the SHL; the main difference being he’s playing with experienced 30 year olds. Both goalies have dominated in their respective environments, but in terms of being more NHL ready one has to assume that goes to Sandstrom.
Breaking down their numbers from the 2016-17 season, both had great years. Carter Hart wrapped up the season with a 1.99 goals-against-average and .927 save percentage in 54 games. Sandstrom ended with a 2.25 GAA and .908 SV% in only 22 games. Hart put up way better numbers in over double the games, yet Sandstrom did manage to hold his own at a high level.
Their performances at the World Junior Championships swung in the favor of Sandstrom, as he ended with a 2.17 GAA and .915 SV% in six games, while Hart finished with a 2.38 GAA and .906 SV% in four outings. The numbers are fairly close, and could have been closer if Hart played the same amount of games. There is also the argument that Canada had the more dificult schedule.
Sandstrom will see more ice time as the starting goalie for Brynas next year, who are one of the top teams in the SHL. Hart is still the clear cut starter for Everett, a team that might be worse than they were last season after their captain Noah Juulsen (MTL, 26th overall, 2015) will be heading to the AHL, and they don’t have a ton of talent to replace him. Hart has drawn more and more attention as the starter for Canada at the WJC and is still considered to be the top North American goalie prospect.
Elite goaltending is hard to find, yet the Flyers have managed to find two of the top goalie prospects in the world. While they are still a couple years away from making a splash at the NHL level, the battle for the top prospect is still up for grabs.
At this point, Hart has one more season of junior eligibility left and Sandstrom has also been confirmed to stay in Sweden for at least another season. Both goalies are just starting to show their real potential and the upcoming season will be a big deciding factor for who will hold the title of “the man” as they make their way to the AHL and eventually the NHL.
Photo Credit- NHL.com via philadelphiaflyers.com