For the Philadelphia Flyers’ Samuel Ersson, Saturday’s rookie game against the New York Rangers is a chance to hit the reset button, a chance to show he still belongs in the organization’s goaltending picture.
And with top prospect Ivan Fedotov unable to come to North America because he was forced into the Russian military, the Flyers’ goaltending situation isn’t as strong as it once looked.
Carter Hart, the No. 1 goalie, is coming off consecutive poor-to-mediocre seasons.
Ersson, a Sweden native who turns 23 next month, will likely play for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the start of the season. Recurring groin problems limited him to just five games with the Phantoms last year, his first season in North America.
Returning from surgery
He had surgery to alleviate the issue, and the hope is that he slowly returns to the form that made him a highly regarded prospectt.
“I feel a lot better, especially mentally,” Ersson said on Friday. “I feel more comfortable out there. I’m getting more comfortable in my playing ability, knowing my body can handle being out there. That’s the biggest thing. I’m ready to go and excited to play some games.”
Added Ersson: “I’ve been doing my rehab for so many months, and this is what I’ve been working toward — getting back here. It’s exciting being able to be out here. Keep on working and put your head down. Take baby steps … I know the biggest part for me right now is to just get back and play in games. I know it will take a little more time to get back to where I want to be with my game and how I play.”
The goalie said Sandstrom, a fellow Swede who has dealt with similar injuries, has been by his side during his rehab.
Leans on Sandstrom
“He’s been so helpful for me through this whole process,” Ersson said. “Knowing he’s been in a similar situation and talking to him (has been beneficial). From the mental side of things (he’s helped), but also from the physical side of things. During the rehab, you get these little setbacks, and it’s nice to have someone to talk to who has gone through that. I’ve been training with him all year and all summer.
“I want to do something similar” to Sandstrom’s recovery, Ersson said.
Ersson, drafted by the Flyers in the fifth round in 2018, was Sweden’s starting goalie at World Juniors later that year. This season, he will get lots of work with the Phantoms.
In Saturday’s 5 p.m. rookie game against the New York Rangers in Allentown, Ersson will get the call and will likely play the entire game.
“I’m excited for it,” he said.
Saturday’s rookie game will be shown on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ at 5 p.m. … Ersson called Hart a “great goalie” and said “there are a lot of things in his game that I’m trying to implement into my own game.”