Flyers goaltender prospect Sandstrom sticks around to play for Phantoms | Sports
Felix Sandstrom, the Swedish goalie cat who was seemingly attached to the idea that his Flyers path wasn’t working out so well, suddenly turned the tide.
Otherwise, why would Sandstrom, the organizational peer of Carter Hart who faced him goalkeeper mano a goalkeeper mano at the World Junior Championships in 2017, would he have signed earlier this week to play in Finland, and is now considering moving on? play Allentown again?
The internet word outside of Europe on Monday had Sandstrom, a Flyers third-round pick in the 2015 draft, after an encouraging mini-season with the Phantoms, on their way to play for TPS Turku in Finland’s top professional league.
Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher more or less confirmed this Monday.
“We had ongoing discussions with Felix about the opportunities, and more importantly he played really well at the end of the season,” said Fletcher. “The most important thing for him is to make sure he gets the ice time for the number 1 goalie and does everything he can to continue his development.
“The last month has been a big step forward for him. We’ll just keep talking and see what the right solution is for him in the future.”
Apparently Fletcher gave Sandstrom another solution. The 24-year-old goaltender accepted a two-pronged one-year contract on Tuesday for $ 750,000. Of course, he would only win that if he was with the Flyers, not just among the crowded mix under old friend Carter Hart in the Lehigh Valley.
Sandstrom had a much more difficult organizational climb than 2016 second-round pick Hart. For Sandstrom, there was a delay in arriving from Sweden, followed by long periods of disappointment. Two seasons ago, he was demoted to the ECHL branch in Reading for most of the 2019-20 season, while Hart rose to NHL starter status.
Sandstrom has struggled to come back, however, playing first in Sweden last season and then coming in for the start of the limited AHL campaign. He was 5-3-3 with a 3.09 goals-against percentage and .903 save percentage in 11 Phantoms games.
But with former Reading team-mate, much-loved prospect Kirill Ustimenko, 22, who only played two away games last year due to injury, as well as Swedish compatriot Sandstrom, Samuel Ersson, 21, there is a lot of competition for playing time in the AHL on the Flyers’ goaltending hopes agenda.
Ivy League veteran Alex Lyon, who after appearing in several Flyers games last season, is not in that mix at the moment is now an unrestricted free agent on hold. Sandstrom’s sudden change in leadership to AHL could be seen as an indicator that Lyon should sign elsewhere, but that has not been confirmed anyway.
“You can never predict ice weather,” Fletcher said Monday. “I think there is a strong possibility (Sandstrom) of having a lot of ice time. But we have Ustimenko and Ersson, and we still make a decision with Alex Lyon, so you can’t guarantee the ice time. and the important thing for Felix is whether it’s here or there, that he has the opportunity to play. “
At some point in the next 24 hours, that decision apparently came from him playing here.
Meanwhile, Hart, 22, has his own issues. He’s coming out of a terrible season in which he seemed to lose direction and confidence. His veteran teammate Brian Elliott, like Lyon a waiting free agent, will likely sign elsewhere if he can find a taker. The Flyers are almost committed to finding a viable veteran goaltender, whether through trade or free agency, which they believe can give Hart a suitable competitive boost.
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Oskar Lindblom was named one of three finalists for the prestigious Bill Masterton Trophy on Tuesday, along with Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba and San Jose center Patrick Marleau.
The award is presented each year to the player who “best embodies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey”.
Lindblom has returned from a battle with cancer to play a full season with the Flyers. Dumba is credited with co-founding the Hockey Diversity Alliance with the goal of increasing inclusiveness and eradicating racism in the hockey ranks. Marleau has surpassed Gordie Howe for the most regular season games played in the NHL this past season. At 41, he played 1,779 regular season games.