In the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft the Flyers selected Carter Hart with the 48th overall pick. Since that moment, he was christened as the next great Philadelphia net minder. While this may seem like a rash distinction to place upon such a young player, its one that was born out of necessity.
It’s no secret that the Flyers have had trouble finding a true superstar to stabilize the net. In fact, the last man who could be considered a true franchise Goalie for Philadelphia is the man who drafted Hart, Ron Hextall.
Hextall last played in 1999 when Hart was less than a year old.
Now 20, Hart has made quite the name for himself in the hockey world as he’s ascended the sport’s ranks. He has played Goalie for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL for the past five seasons. In that time, Hart has a record of 116-46-10, a .927 save percentage, and a GAA of 2.01. Those numbers alone are enough to excite any Flyers fan. In three of those seasons he was named the top Goalie of the WHL, while also winning the league’s MVP last year. Also in his trophy case is a silver and gold medal for the World Junior Championship he won with Canada’s U20 teams. Even internationally, Hart has dominated the competition.
So what happens when you take Hart’s excellence in net and consider the Flyers perennial need for a Goalie? You have the most hyped Philly prospect since an over-sized 19 year old debuted with #88 on his sweater almost three decades ago.
Talent always wins out in the NHL, and Hart will be no different. His time in the league will come but asking a 20 year old rookie with no professional experience to start is just too much. For now veteran Brian Elliot is the team’s starter. While on the back end of his career, Elliot can still provide some stability in the crease. The oft injured Michal Neuvirth is in the mix too, as are Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon. While this group of Goalies are competitive and can help the Flyers win, none match the potential and raw talent of Hart.
Hart will start in net for the Flyers. That much is known. Experts, scouts, and reporters all seem to agree on this. The only unknowns here are when that time will come, and how great he will truly play.
While fans will have to wait for his Flyers debut, Hart will officially begin his professional career this year with the Phantoms. This will afford Hart the luxury of cutting his teeth (perhaps a bad phrase for a hockey player) in Lehigh Valley. The development of young prospects is critical in hockey, especially for one at a position of need.
Last season Nolan Patrick started the year with the Flyers as a rookie straight out of the minors. Starting a player so young in the NHL is rare. When it does happen though, it tends to be a skilled position player who just happens to posses the talent to make it out of training camp. Goalies, just like with every other aspect in life, are a different breed. Maturation and apparent growth are needed before a starting job can be won. Hart has all the skill and opportunity needed with the Phantoms to become the great Goalie everyone has come to expect. Fans of Philadelphia will just have to be patient while Carter Hart proves his worth.
The Flyers have waited nearly twenty years for a true number one Goalie who can carry the team and produce a real contender. They will just have to wait a little longer.
statistics courtesy of http://whl.ca/players/26848
A Philadelphia native who loves sports, writing, and cheesesteaks – in that order. Being retweeted by Brian Dawkins remains life’s crowning achievement.