Musings and Quick Hits: Hart, Konecny, Expansion Draft and More
Quick Hits: September 17, 2020
1) On Wednesday afternoon, Flyers goaltender Carter Hart did a remote media availability session with the team's beat writers. In addition to assessing the 2019-20 season both from a team and individual standpoint, he discussed why the Islanders presented own-zone difficulties to the Flyers, talked about his relationship with Brian Elliott (whom Hart hopes is re-signed for next year), staunchly defended the leadership provided by Claude Giroux and gave a short overview of his offseason training plans (which will be the subject of an upcoming article on the Flyers official website). Hart initially planned to take a little more time off, but after a week at home, felt lazy just resting and already resumed exercising this week.
2) NHL Expansion Draft: Some asked a question about how, if the Flyers sign Elliott or another veteran backup goalie to one-year contract, the organization will be able to meet the NHL Expansion Draft requirement to make one goalie available to the Draft. It goes without saying that the organization will protect Hart.
I will need to get confirmation on this -- do not take it for gospel -- but I believe that Flyers prospect Felix Sandstrom will be Expansion Draft eligible next summer so long as he receives a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent.
The first year of the Swedish goaltender's entry-level contract was used when the Flyers loaned him to SHL team HV71 in 2018-19. The second year was used in 2019-20 when he was with the ECHL's Reading Royals and briefly in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley. Thus, after this season, he can become a restricted free agent. I believe the only requirement for exposing a non-exempt goalie is that he either must be under contract for 2021-22 or an RFA who received a qualifying offer; there is no NHL games played requirement unlike with a defenseman made available to the Draft.
Of course, there are other ways the Flyers could satisfy the requirement even if their NHL backup is on a one-year contract or if Sandstrom were to not be tendered a qualifying offer. The Flyers could sign a veteran AHL/NHL swingman goalie to a two-year contract -- for example, re-signing impending UFA goalie Alex Lyon or a comparable mid-to-late 20s goalie to a two-year contract.
Lyon is coming off a two-year contract. Year one was a two-way salary, this past year was on a one-way arrangement this season that paid him $700,000 to primarily play for the Phantoms and serve as the No. 3 goalie on the Philadelphia depth chart. Although every goalie craves being a full-time NHLer and not an AHL starter/NHL injury fill-in, the arrangement Lyon was on this past season in many ways is preferable (at least financially) to a two-way contract and a vague promise that there will be training camp competition for the NHL No. 2 job.
I would think that trying to get increased AHL experience for prospect Kirill Ustimenko in 2020-21 is a top priority for the organization's developmental plans (he is only in the second year of his ELC and is Expansion Draft exempt). This is also a make-or-break year for Sandstrom, who struggled in the ECHL in his first North American pro season, and who had injury injuries while in the SHL in Sweden. Nonetheless, when (and if) there's a 2020-21 AHL regular season, the Flyers may want a more proven AHL option than Ustimenko or Sandstrom to already be in-house. That's for hockey reasons, not just Expansion Draft considerations.
At any rate, the point here is that there are a variety of different ways the Flyers could satisfy the Expansion Draft goalie availability requirement even if Hart's partner goalie is on a one-year deal. It won't be a problem, one way or another. The focus needs to be on finding Hart a viable NHL goalie partner (Elliott or otherwise), the Phantoms bouncing back from two straight disappointing regular seasons and allowing Ustimenko's continued development (and that of Sandstrom, if he steers himself back on track) to happen at its own pace.
3) Up next on the Flyers player Exit Day remote press conference series: Travis Konecny. The team's regular-season leading goal-scorer and point-getter, a first-time NHL All-Star Game selection in 2019-20, had a very frustrating postseason that saw him fail to score a goal and register seven assists across the team's 16 games. More on that in tomorrow's blog.
4) Sept. 17 Flyers Alumni birthday: Marc-Andre Bourdon
Big and aggressive defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon was born Sept. 17, 1989 in St. Hyancinthe, Quebec. Drafted by the Flyers in the third round (67th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft, the six-foot, 225-pound Bourdon was a high-scoring and punishing physical presence at the QMJHL level for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the Rimouski Oceanic.
When Bourdon turned pro, he focused more on being a defensive defenseman as he worked to smooth out his skating and take fewer risks. He spent his first two pro seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11) primarily in the American Hockey League with the Adirondack Phantoms but also played in five regular season games and 10 playoff games for the ECHL' Greenville Road Warriors in 2010-11.
Bourdon enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2011-12, graduating from the AHL to the Flyers NHL roster. He held his own at the top level in 45 regular season games but was severely set back by the first of a series of concussions.
Unfortunately, Bourdon struggled the rest of his career with post-concussion syndrome and sustained several additional concussions while playing for the AHL's Phantoms in comeback bids. He was compelled to retire at age 25.
Bourdon, a born-again Christian, accepted a post as an assistant coach for Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team after his retirement as an active player. Away from the ice, he enrolled in courses with a focus in Exercise Science and Nutrition. Bourdon also became an active member of Hockey Ministries International.
During the 2016-17 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season, Bourdon rejoined his old team, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies; this time in an assistant coach capacity. This past season, at age 30, he became the team's assistant general manager and head scout.
Carter Hart Transcript
Courtesy of the Flyers, below is the full transcript of Carter Hart's remote media availability from Wednesday:
What did you learn from your first playoffs that will help you moving forward?
Playoff hockey is different. You are playing almost every second day. I think it was a little different in the sense that we were in the bubble. I think the NHL was trying to get things done quicker so we had a couple back to backs. Recovery and rest are important as well. Playoff hockey, sometimes you can find yourself down and you can find yourself up. There was always a lot of those ups and downs. I think we just have to find a way to stay even-keeled and try to stay consistent as possible.
Can you describe the type of leader that Claude Giroux is and the type of leadership he brings into the room?
G’s a great leader for us. He plays the game really hard. He cares so much. He cares so much not only about winning, but about everybody on our team and making sure everybody is doing their job. Even off the ice, he’s an awesome guy, especially for us younger guys. He treats us so well. Always includes us in activities and always asks how we are doing. For me as a younger guy, to have him to look up to as our captain, he’s awesome.
What is your timetable to begin getting ready for training camp and the next season given that there isn’t a set timeline on when the next season is going to begin? Are you trying to treat it as you would a normal offseason?
Probably just like a normal offseason. I took a week off here from training and started back up yesterday because I just felt so lazy sitting around the house the whole time. I needed to be doing something. We’ll see with ice and stuff. Probably will take a little bit of time off the ice here to give my body some rest. Just kind of got to wait and see.
Can you talk about, during the season, your relationship with Brian Elliott?
Yeah. Me and Moose, we get along really well. I love playing with him. He’s been a great mentor to me. He’s obviously a veteran goalie in the NHL and has a lot of experience. He’s taught me a lot. We have a lot of fun playing together. I love playing alongside him. I really hope he’s back. I think he definitely wants to come back as well. I love playing alongside of him and we have a great relationship. We have a lot of fun together and he’s taught me so many things. I’m very grateful to play alongside him this year and I hope next year as well.
From a defensive standpoint, what was the biggest difference you saw in the Montreal series compared to the Islanders series?
I don’t know. I think the Islanders just come really hard. They got some guys who are pretty fast and they skate really fast. I think they just came hard and they come to the net hard. They try to get bodies in front. They funnel a lot of pucks from the point and try to get traffic. They play a really hard forecheck. Sometimes you’re in your zone for a little bit. It can be tough to defend against. I think they just came a lot harder than we expected.
What’s your self-evaluation of your play this season and where are you at in terms of your progression as a goalie?
I felt good in the net. I think obviously in the season, there’s ups and downs. You really just have to find a way to find that consistency. You find that through practice and all your off ice habits. In the playoffs, I felt good. I think we did a good job here this season. Obviously we had some adversity as well and we battled through it. Came on really hot at the end as a group there. Took that over to the playoffs there with the round robin and the first round there. Obviously you’re going to run into some speed bumps there in the regular season and the playoffs. The Isles were just the better team. Going forward, I made a lot of right steps. I think we have the right group here that can really do some damage. I think we just have to believe in each other. I think this experience that we just had in the bubble, in the playoffs and in the season is only going to help our group moving forward into next year.
Could you just give us a glimpse of some of the things you do in the off-season workout-wise, both mentally and physically? I know you said during the pause you were doing some yoga as well.
Yup. I haven’t really lifted a lot during the playoffs. More so mobility. Getting my body accustomed to working out every day. We were playing hockey every second day. It can be hard to get your off ice training in and get your weight lifting in. I think it’s important that you ease yourself back into things and go from there.