June 14, 2024

Flyers’ goalie tandem appears set. Whether it’s good enough is another question

For as much as the Philadelphia Flyers’ late-season free fall was both concerning and disappointing, the final three games — in which they managed to keep the playoff race compelling — did surely provide at least a slight organizational sigh of relief.

It starts with goalie Samuel Ersson, who was as much of a reason as anyone for the team’s 0-6-2 losing streak, but then was arguably their best player in wins over the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils and in the season finale to the Washington Capitals, a 2-1 loss in which the game-winning goal was scored into an empty net.

I do think so, it helps,” Ersson said last week after the Flyers’ final gathering, when asked if that late resurgence will help him mentally into the offseason. “I feel like we can, or I can, hold my head a little bit higher. … (The eight-game losing streak) was a tough stretch and it happened at a tough time of the year, but I think coming out of it we did make a valid push. I definitely learned from that.”

Ersson, 24, will have the inside track to the Flyers’ No. 1 role in 2024-25, in what will be the first of a two-year, $2.9 million contract. And, his No. 2 will almost certainly be Ivan Fedotov, the 27-year-old Russian who signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract extension on Tuesday, a big chunk of change for a player who is still essentially a project.

The Flyers’ goalie tandem could be set for the next two seasons. It will allow more time for the prospects to develop, too, including 2021 third round pick Alexei Kolosov, who recently joined the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and who could be the AHL club’s No. 1 going into next season. Along with Carson Bjarnason and Egor Zavragin, second- and third-round picks, respectively, in the 2023 draft, “I think the goaltending is looking good for many years to come,” general manager Daniel Briere said on Friday.

We’ll see. In what is the most difficult position in the NHL to project, Briere does seem to have a few lottery tickets that could pay off eventually.

The immediate future is tough to project, too, because while there were some positives to take away from 2023-24 when it comes to the goaltenders, whether the Ersson-Fedotov duo will be strong enough to put the team in a position to remain in the hunt for the playoffs next season still seems like a significant question.

It starts with Ersson, who had a tremendously up-and-down campaign.

His first three appearances were a disaster, as Ersson allowed 14 goals on just 59 shots. But from Nov. 3 up to the start of that eight-game losing streak in late March, Ersson was 21-12-5 with a .906 save percentage and 2.49 goals-against average. Solid numbers, especially considering he was thrust into the No. 1 role after the All-Star break due to Carter Hart’s departure.

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