When Carson Bjarnason was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in June, he spoke with great admiration about Carter Hart, the team’s No. 1 goalie.
Now, Bjarnason is one of two goalies in Rookie Camp and he’s been palling around with Mr. Hart. Bjarnason is scheduled to be in the net Saturday night in the Rookie Series against the Rangers (5:05 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia+).
“We got to hang out in the gym a little bit,” Bjarnason said the other day at camp. “Went to the Phillies game the other day. Yeah and really a great guy.
“And obviously he’s a role model of mine on the ice. Just watching him practice is going to translate to me, hopefully.”
The Philadelphia Flyers traded up with the Blackhawks to draft Bjarnason in the second round, the 51st overall pick. With the Flyers’ depth and youth at the position, some observers were surprised at the pick.
But the Flyers obviously liked what they saw in the 6-foot-3 goalie from the Brandon Wheat Kings. 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 traded their 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. Yeah, they obviously liked him.
Bjarnason said he’s been following Hart’s career since junior hockey and tries to emulate what he sees.
“Definitely Hart and mostly [Carey] Price,” said Bjarnason, who’s from Carberry, Manitoba.
“That’s somebody I always looked at and just watched him through the years. It’s something that I tried to take and put to my game.
“I really like his [Hart’s] post play. It’s something he’s definitely tuned up and even watching him through the years in juniors, his post play always stood out to me. I try to take a few pieces of that and put [it] into my game.”
Bjarnason said his game has improved since the draft.
“Just [my] overall game,” Bjarnason said. “It’s getting better, looking off pucks, being able to play the puck, just all of the little pro habits that translate to the higher levels.”
Working on His Game
It’s reasonable to expect more improvement from Bjarnason from working in Rookie Camp with the Flyers’ prospects.
“Definitely more goalie-specific stuff, something that I’ve kinda learned over the last couple of years,” he said. “You can’t really train like a body-builder to play hockey. Something I’ve picked up and the Flyers have really helped me out with.
“Just kinda narrowing of my feet a little bit, just getting those junior habits out of my game and translating the best I can to play pro.
“Even translating into the gym, it’s something that you work on. There’s a goalie-specific program they have here, too. Just keeping your feet under you, always arriving on your feet and being able to make the next push even when you’re not expecting it.
“It’s important to have your body underneath you and just being ready for the next play.”
Bjarnason admitted it’s been a bit of a whirlwind lately — NHL Draft in June, Development Camp in July, working out in Voorhees most of the summer, now Rookie Camp. Bjarnason is an 18-year-old coming from a Manitoba town with a population of 1,818.
“Yeah a little [like a whirlwind],” Bjarnason said with a chuckle. “But obviously would rather be doing it than not. So I’m happy to be here and super fortunate.”