The Philadelphia Flyers have called up top goaltending prospect Carter Hart for the first time.
The Flyers, who at 12-15-4 have the worst record in the Eastern Conference, are also bottom in the league in goaltending. Philadelphia has already used five goaltenders this season (Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard, Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon and Michal Neuvirth). The group has combined for a league-low .874 save percentage.
In a corresponding move, Stolarz was put on injury reserve with a lower-body injury. He is expected to be sidelined two to four weeks.
Hart, 20, is in his first season as a pro. Over four-plus seasons with the WHL Everett Silvertips, Hart compiled one of the greatest junior hockey careers ever for a goalie. He is the only player ever to win the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award twice.
With the Flyers' top AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Hart is 9-5-2 with a 3.05 GAA and .901 save percentage. After a shaky start in Lehigh, he has sharpened his game lately, earning wins in four of his last five starts, going 4-1-0, with a 1.82 GAA and .939 save percentage.
Hart was drafted by the Flyers in the second round (48th pick) of the 2016 draft. He starred for Team Canada's 2018 World Juniors Championship gold medal-winning team.
The Flyers had a star goaltender in Hall of Famer Bernie Parent in the 1970s. Though there have been a few standouts since then -- including Ron Hextall, who was dismissed as the team's GM last month -- the franchise has had now had a decades-long history of cycling goaltenders in net.
Hart is fully aware of Philadelphia's goaltending woes. "As far as the history with goaltending, I haven't really thought about it as my problem -- it's a problem of past years," he said in an interview with ESPN last month. "It doesn't really affect me. I'm worried about working on me so I'm ready when I get to that next level."
Hart was among the Flyers' last cuts at training camp, a move he told ESPN was "disappointing" because he thought he had a good chance of making the team.
Hextall, dismissed on Nov. 27, had preached patience with Hart's career. Hextall was replaced with longtime Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher.