The Philadelphia Flyers traded up into the second round to draft goaltender Carson Bjarnason because they liked his skill, his size, his athleticism.
Here’s something else the Philadelphia Flyers might have liked. Top pick Connor Bedard, the expected Next Great Thing who scored 71 goals last season in the Western Hockey League, had no luck against Bjarnason.
“I’ve never scored on him,” Bedard told NHL.com. “Two games I’ve played him and he’s got a few nice saves on me.”
Well, that’s saying something right there.
Bjarnason was the 51st overall pick in June’s draft, the third Flyers’ pick and the fourth goaltender selected. He is 6-foot-3, 186 pounds. His statistics aren’t overwhelming. He played for a so-so Brandon Wheat Kings team and he often found himself under fire.
“Huge [the influence Brandon had],” Bjarnason said. “Getting chances against, we were a young team.
“It was an exciting year for us. Moving forward it will be great. Thankful for Brandon, obviously, they’ve helped me so much to get to this point.”
Bjarnason was 21-19-6 for the Wheat Kings last season, with a 3.08 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. The Flyers obviously see his potential that goes beyond his numbers in an offensive-minded WHL.
Their faith was demonstrated in the trade with the Blackhawks that landed Bjarnason. Philadelphia traded its 2023 sixth-round pick (167th overall) and the 2024 second-round pick acquired from the Kings in the Ivan Provorov trade for the 51st overall pick.
“I haven’t looked too much into it,” Bjarnason said on draft night about the Flyers trading up for him. “It’s pretty crazy. I just want to prove them right.
“I watch every game of his [Flyers starting goalie Carter Hart]. He’s one of my favorite goalies since [Carey] Price stopped playing. He’s the one guy I’ve been watching.”
Before the draft, Elite Prospects described Bjarnason’s game: “Bjarnason’s legs are his biggest weapon. He consistently takes away the bottom part of the net with them.
“He uses the overlap technique a lot on rush chances because if there is a backdoor pass, he has the ability to stretch across and cover the extra space with his pads.”
Bjarnason, who is from Carberry, Manitoba, described his own game at the draft: “Breaking the mold away from my technicality, I think it’s kinda my poise and the aura I carry in the net.
“I think I have a good, calm sense of aura and have that certain stoicism to my game, so that’s what I’m going to try carrying with them, for sure.”
Bjarnason is probably three or four years from challenging for a spot on the Flyers roster. Right now, the Flyers are well-stocked at the position — a position that traditionally has given them problems.
The Flyers also drafted Russian Egor Zavragin with the 87th overall pick this year.
They now have Hart, Sam Ersson, Felix Sandstrom and Cal Peterson. They just signed 2021 third-round draft pick Alexei Kolosov, who is on loan to the KHL’s Dinamo Minsk.
The Flyers are waiting for an IIHF decision on the contract status of Ivan Fedotov. Depending on the outcome, Fedotov could play in Philadelphia next season.
And soon enough, if all goes well, Carson Bjarnason might be in Philadelphia, too.