Of all the injuries that the Philadephia Flyers are already dealing with before the year even begins, Carter Hart’s status might be the most important. The young netminder does not have a veteran backup to insulate him this season, and any hope the Flyers have of competing for the playoffs will likely come down to his performance.
It’s frightening then for Flyers fans when Hart is absent from practices or preseason games, as he has so far. Today, when meeting with the media, he explained to reporters including Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic that they are just being cautious and that he will be ready for the start of the season. The Philadelphia medical staff has deemed Hart (along with Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson) has been cleared for non-contact practice, and he was on the ice today with the group.
After bursting into the NHL with an outstanding .917 save percentage as a rookie and following it up with a strong sophomore campaign, Hart hasn’t been quite that franchise-altering netminder that the Flyers were hoping for. In 2020-21 he posted an .877 save percentage in 27 appearances, and last season he had a .905 in 45. While a good chunk of that is due to the weak play from the skaters in front of him, there should be legitimate criticism of his performance as well.
If he can get back to the goaltender that he looked like a few years ago, the Flyers have a chance of really improving on their poor 2021-22 campaign. But given that it is Felix Sandstrom and his five NHL appearances behind him, any struggles could be devastating. Being cautious is certainly warranted, though fans won’t be very trusting of the Philadelphia medical staff after the past few years.