STONE HARBOR — “Trust the process” might not just apply to one Philadelphia team.
Philadelphia Flyers goalie prospect Carter Hart did his best Joel Embiid impersonation Wednesday at the Flyers’ Trial on the Isle fan event in Stone Harbor.
Hart, a little lesser known than the 76ers center, is a believer of patience, especially at a position with which Philadelphia fans have lost patience over the years.
“I know that Mr. Hextall (Flyers general manager Ron Hextall) really approaches his prospects with wanting them to take their time and develop,” said Hart, of Edmonton, Alberta. “I think what he really stresses is to trust the process and develop them. He worries about developing your skills and getting better. It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you work hard and worry about getting better, and the rest will take care of itself.”
Hart, taken in second round (48th overall) of last year’s NHL draft, is considered by many the player who finally will solve Philadelphia’s goalie woes.
However, Hart is just 18 and most likely won’t play for the Flyers or their American Hockey League affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, this season.
“All I have to do is worry about getting better,” he said. “It’s a long process. You stick in the moment and don’t want to look too far ahead of yourself and don’t want to look too far in the future.”
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Hart isn’t the only potential solution in net for the Flyers. Among the other goalies in the recent Flyers Development Camp was Swedish-born Felix Sandstrom, who impressed the coaches during the weeklong session that ended with the Stone Harbor event.
“We’ve been working on a lot of stuff here at development camp, so I’m going to keep on doing that stuff that will make me better,” said Sandstrom, from Gavle, Sweden. “I’ll keep on working hard, and hopefully it will pay off.”
Hart and Sandstrom, along with Phantoms goalie and Middlesex County native Anthony Stolarz, give fans hope the Flyers’ revolving door in net will finally shut. Yet fans likely will have to wait at least another year before seeing Sandstrom or Hart play hockey in Pennsylvania.
The Flyers seem to be set with Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott as their goalies for the 2017-18 season. Stolarz even boasts seven games of NHL experience from last season in which he posted a 4-2 record, 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.
“Every goalie is different. Every goalie has a different path to the NHL,” Hart said. “Some guys are playing as 19-year-olds, and others don’t play until they’re almost 30. I can’t put a timetable on it. I have to worry about getting better, and when it happens it happens.”
Hart will most likely head back to the Everett Silvertops of the Western Hockey League for a fifth season.
Because of the NHL’s agreement with the Canadian Hockey League, which oversees three junior leagues in Canada, players under 20 cannot play in the American Hockey League, the NHL’s top minor league.
Sandstrom still has one more year left of his contract with Brynas IF of the Swedish Hockey League. The Flyers took him in the third round (70th overall) of the 2015 draft but haven’t signed him to an entry-level contract yet.
“It’s for sure a tough position to be in,” Sandstrom said. “You’re on the ice all the time, you make a mistake, and there’s a goal. But that’s what I like about it. The responsibility and the way you can win the games. I like that pressure.”
Hart has a nice resume to show off.
He was Canada’s goalie in the 2017 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. Canada won the silver medal with Hart compiling a 2.38 GAA and .906 save percentage in four games.
He has spent the past four seasons with Everett. He put forth his most impressive effort last season, going 32-11-2 with a .927 save percentage, a 1.99 GAA and nine shutouts in 54 games.
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“My goal is to come into Flyers camp in September, and my goal is to stick out with the team,” Hart said. “But if that doesn’t happen I have a great spot in Everett. It’s a great squad, a great organization, I love playing there.”
Sandstrom was on Sweden’s World Junior team that tournament as well. In six games, he posted a 2.17 GAA and .915 save percentage to help the Swedes finish fourth.
In 22 games with Brynas IF last season, he had a 2.25 GAA and a .908 save percentage with two shutouts in 22 games.
“I had a couple good seasons now in Sweden,” Sandstrom said. “I’m signed there for one more year. My hope is to play a lot and keep improving and be ready for next year.”