The Philadelphia Flyers have just seven games left, but Carter Hart won’t be playing in any of them. The team announced today that Hart has been ruled out for the rest of the regular season with an MCL sprain in his left knee.
It’s a fitting end for an extremely disappointing season, in which Hart saw his numbers plummet across the board. The 22-year-old netminder posted a 9-11-5 record in 27 appearances, registering just an .877 save percentage and 3.67 goals-against average. Those numbers aren’t good enough for an NHL backup, let alone one of the most exciting up-and-coming goaltenders in the league that was supposed to challenge for the Vezina Trophy in short order.
The young netminder will have to find a way to put this season behind him and get his career back on track, but this injury certainly won’t help. There was a good chance that even with his struggles he could have been on Team Canada at the upcoming IIHF World Championship. Canada’s goaltending for the 2022 Olympics (assuming NHL players attend) is far from set, with names like Carey Price and Jordan Binnington dealing with their own struggles.
Perhaps more importantly, this poor season could have an effect on Hart’s contract negotiations this summer. The young goaltender is a restricted free agent for the first time and will not have arbitration rights. It was assumed that he would be locked up long-term at the first chance Philadelphia had, but most players wouldn’t want to ink a multi-year deal coming off such a poor season. It will be interesting to see if the two sides go for a bridge contract instead, allowing Hart to get his game back on track while also leaving enough cap space to bring in (or back) a proven veteran.
Currently, the Flyers have just a single goaltender—22-year-old Kirill Ustimenko who underwent major hip surgery in December—under contract for the 2021-22 season.