Though the Philadelphia Flyers are sitting in last place in the Metropolitan Division, they haven’t yet thrown in the towel. Several injured goaltenders are still working to try and get back to the team, and today GM Chuck Fletcher told reporters including Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer that Brian Elliott will not require surgery. Elliott should be back in three weeks, which makes him an interesting trade candidate at the deadline if the Flyers haven’t climbed back into the playoff picture.
Elliott, 33, is on the final year of his current contract and carries a $2.75MM cap hit. He could very well be heading for unrestricted free agency in the summer given the emergence of Carter Hart as the likely starting option next season, meaning he could be a short-term rental for a playoff team looking for some veteran depth. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that at one point Elliott was considered a premiere starter in the league, twice leading the league in save percentage as a member of the St. Louis Blues and even earning some Hart Trophy votes in 2011-12.
Now years removed from that performance, Elliott still wasn’t the biggest problem in Philadelphia before his injury. Posting a .911 save percentage in 14 appearances, he looked more than capable to carry at least a partial starter load or perform as the reliable backup. That’s something that playoff teams may be interested in, especially if they’ve dealt with injury concerns to their number one options already. The Toronto Maple Leafs, for instance, just went out and spent a draft pick to acquire Michael Hutchinson to give them some more experience at the position, knowing that they were a few injuries away from having Kasimir Kaskisuo suit up for a first round playoff game.
There is also the opportunity for Elliott to show that he can be a useful backup and mentor to Hart going forward, and perhaps sign an extension with the Flyers. It’s not clear how the goaltending situation will shake out exactly given the pending UFA status of both Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, meaning the stretch run could be a showcase for both of them to prove they can still help the team going forward.