The Flyers have struggled to find a solid long-term goalie for some time now. Ever since former GM Paul Holmgren traded away Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Bob has only gotten better. After struggling all season with very shaky goaltending, the answer to their prayers could be right down the road in Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms are currently in the Calder Cup final–the equivalent to the Stanley Cup for AHL teams. The Phantoms have had nothing less than an outstanding year, and these young prospects sure seem to be giving us much to look forward to in the coming years. One specific player that stands out is goalie Alex Lyon; in the playoffs, he has gone 6 – 4 with a .945 save percentage. Also, he finished tied for fourth among all AHL goaltenders in wins last season (27). His play has allowed the team to rally around him, and even though they are down in this series, these young players have nowhere to go but up. The question is when will he be ready for the NHL, where the organization badly needs him.
Going into next season, it seems there will be some debate on when to bring him up to the NHL and have him play among the best hockey players in the world. It will be a messy situation with the current goaltending state. Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth are still under contract, leaving Ron Hextall and Dave Hakstol with many tough decisions going into this offseason; not just at goalie, but across the board. When bringing in Elliott many thought he would be a decent stopgap until our young guys are ready to come up. At this point, it seems we should try to get rid of him and start grooming Lyon to take the starting spot for the near future. If not move him, at the very least get him to help teach Lyon the ropes and prepare him for a starting role.
The Phantoms are currently down 3 – 0 in the Calder Cup final, but by no means is this a bad season. If anything, this proves that our young players are more prepared to come to the big leagues sooner rather than later. The organization should take a hard look at making Lyon a big part of the Flyers goaltending plans next season. With him, and others looking to get into the NHL, let’s hope this already young team can take some of the momentum of the recent success of the Phantoms, and help bring that energy to the Flyers.
The Flyers have plenty of work to do and it should start with the contributions from their AHL counterpart. This team can take another step forward this coming season, however, they need to start involving our goaltender of the future. If not, once again, poor goaltending will continue to plague the Broad Street Bullies.