With the impending return of goaltender Brian Elliott as well as the potential return of Michal Neuvirth and the presence of Anthony Stolarz, there are some who are worried that the Philadelphia Flyers might consider sending 20-year-old Carter Hart back to the AHL to make room for some of their veterans. Of course, Hart’s numbers would suggest that might be a mistake as he has won eight-straight games, which ties him for the NHL record for the most consecutive games won by a goalie under 21 years old (Jocelyn Thibault also had eight straight wins in 1995).
However, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher confirmed reports today that Hart has been told that he’s staying in Philadelphia for the rest of the season.
“Yes most likely,” Fletcher said. “But he will be eligible for AHL playoffs if we don’t make it in Philly.”
Heralded as the CHL Goaltender of the Year two straight years, the belief was that Hart would need to play one full season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL. However, with numerous injuries in net in Philadelphia and a change in leadership both in the front office and eventually behind the bench, Hart was recalled on Dec. 18 and has put up impressive numbers, including an 11-5-1 record, a 2.45 GAA and a .926 save percentage in 17 games. His current eight-game winning streak has vaulted the Flyers, long thought out of a playoff spot, back into the race as they are just six points out of a wildcard spot, although there are a number of teams in between them.
The team has already indicated they will consider keeping three goaltenders on the roster as Elliott is expected to return to game action next week. Regardless, the team has gotten solid play from both Hart and Stolarz recently and Philadelphia has made it clear, they don’t want to overwhelm the youngster by playing him too much, so adding a third goaltender shouldn’t have detrimental effects.