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Should Flyers pursue Braden Holtby to back up Carter Hart in net?



Braden Holtby Flyers

Chuck Fletcher has checked off the top boxes on his to-do list this offseason. The Flyers have made a few trades to add two top-four defensemen in Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen, and they swapped Jakub Voracek for Cam Atkinson as well. Now, with the defense taken care of, Fletcher’s focus is shifting to the backup goalie position. One player that’s possibly on the Flyers’ radar is Braden Holtby.

“Adding another goalie will be paramount,” Fletcher said last week.

Elliotte Friedman said on Monday that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Flyers are among teams interested in Holtby. However, the Vancouver Canucks had a “ton of trouble” moving him due to his contract. The veteran goalie was placed on waivers to be bought out.

Braden Holtby signed a two-year, $8.6 million ($4.3 AAV) contract last offseason. It’s safe to say that he hasn’t met expectations with the Canucks.

Holtby has actually been on the decline for three years now. In the 2018-19 season, he had a .911 save percentage and 2.82 goals-against average. Those numbers have gotten worse in each of the last two seasons. He had a .897 SV% and 3.11 GAA two years ago in his final season with the Capitals and went 7-11-3 with a .889 SV% and 3.67 GAA last season in Vancouver.

On the surface, trading for Holtby seems like a bad move. All signs point to the aging goaltender (Holtby turns 32 in September) is on the decline. However, there is an off-ice connection between Holtby and Carter Hart.

Holtby and Hart shared the same sports psychologist, John Stevenson of Zone Performance Psychology in Edmonton. The two have been friends for years while supporting each other off of the ice. They both use the “water bottle trick” in tracking the droplets of water to focus. Holtby finally got over the hump in 2018 to win the Stanley Cup, and Hart could use some more support coming off of a down season.

But that might not be enough to bring Holtby to Philadelphia.

Even if Holtby is willing to sign for cheap, having a declining goalie backing up Hart –– who may have his own struggles still –– doesn’t seem like a great idea.

Who knows, maybe Holtby and Hart can both bounce back together. I don’t see that happening, but Holtby will be a name to keep an eye on in the coming days as the Flyers look to add another goalie.

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