The Philadelphia Flyers have become synonymous with shaky goaltending. Not since the days of Ron Hextall have the Flyers fielded an established goaltender for more than two seasons. While Steve Mason and Ray Emery will try to end the goaltending carousel during the 2013-2014 season, 19-year-old prospect Anthony Stolarz may be ready to take the helm in the future.
Drafted 45th overall by the Flyers in the 2012 NHL draft, Stolarz enrolled at the University of Nebraska-Omaha under a scholarship for hockey. Displeased with splitting ice-time between two other goalies, he left after three months, after much deliberation and advice from Ian Laperriere, the Flyers’ director of player management.
Stolarz accepted an offer to play in the OHL for the London Knights. He posted a respectable 2.29 goals-against-average with a save percentage of .920. He concluded the season with a 13-3-2 record. During the playoffs, Stolarz went 13-5, posting a 2.53 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
The 6-foot-6 Jackson, New Jersey native should feel right at home playing in Philadelphia, just an hour drive from his hometown. Stolarz’s height and agility impressed Flyers goaltending scout Neil Little, who recommended GM Paul Holmgren draft the little-known goaltender in the second round.
Given his height, Stolarz naturally blocks a good portion of the net when in the butterfly position. Opposing players are presented with limited opportunities for a good shot. His long reach will helps with his post-to-post game as well. Unfortunately, taller goalies tend to have larger five-holes (area between the legs), although this hasn’t been an issue in Stolarz play thus far.
With the success Stolarz found in his rookie season with the Knights, he seems to have a bright future ahead of him. Depending on how the Flyers goaltending situation plays out in the coming months and years, fans could expect to see Stolarz don the orange and black sweater in some capacity within the next few years.