The Philadelphia Flyers have decided to bring back one of their veteran goaltenders, inking Brian Elliott to a one-year contract extension. The deal will carry a cap hit of $2MM. GM Chuck Fletcher explained the signing:
Brian has played well for us the last two seasons. He is a proven, quality goaltender who competes and battles hard every time he has the net. We are excited to have him rejoin our team.
Elliott, 34, was one of three Philadelphia goaltenders set to hit unrestricted free agency along with Michal Neuvirth and Cam Talbot, but will instead be the one that gets to work with Carter Hart next year in the Flyers’ net. The veteran netminder has been both sides of outstanding and terrible throughout his career, posting save percentages as low as .893 (55 games in 2010-11) and as high as .940 (38 games in 2011-12). That kind of inconsistency isn’t exactly what you’re looking for from a backup, but after posting decent results over his two years in Philadelphia the team will welcome him back for a reasonable price.
Make no mistake, even with Elliott’s long career history the Flyers are about to be Hart’s team. The 20-year old posted a .917 through his 31 appearances as a rookie this season and looks poised to become one of the NHL’s young goaltending stars before long. Philadelphia is insulating their young netminder with some experience though, as Elliott and Alex Lyon are both now under contract for next season and can carry some of the load if needed.
Amazingly, Hart isn’t the only young goaltender on his way for the Flyers. The team also has 20-year old Kirill Ustimenko and 22-year old Felix Sandstrom developing at their own pace, both third-round picks that have considerable upside. While they may not be ready by the time Elliott’s one-year contract is complete, it’s easy to understand why the team wouldn’t want to lock in any veterans for a multi-year term.
Elliott’s re-signing will change the goaltending landscape in free agency however, given that he was a potential option for other teams looking at bringing in some experience. In fact it may actually help his former teammates in Neuvirth and Talbot, who are both trying to recapture some of their past success and now have one fewer rival to deal with on the open market.