Any questions about Carter Hart’s future with the Flyers were answered on Monday when the goaltender was signed to a three-year contract extension.
The new deal will pay Hart, who turns 23 on Friday, an average of $3.979 million per year.
Obviously, Hart was pleased to learn he’s a big part of the Flyers’ future plans.
“It’s really great to know an organization is behind you and they trust you,’’ Hart said during a media Zoom call from his Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada home on Monday. “Now it’s my job just to go out and play the game. Right now, just train and work as hard as I can to be prepared for the season. (GM) Chuck (Fletcher) has made some great moves this summer. It will be great to get to work here soon.’’
Getting nearly $12 million over three seasons comes just after a disappointing campaign in which Hart really struggled at times, particularly on the road.
In his third season, he appeared in 27 games for the Flyers in 2020-21, posting a 9-11-5 record with a 3.67 goals-against average and a .877 save percentage.
But his overall body of work is pretty darn good and most NHL talent evaluators believe that with some significant offseason moves, the Flyers will provide more defensive support in front of him.
“The past is in the past,’’ Hart said of the Flyers’ season which ended without a playoff visit. “I just took a little breather after the season. It (the rough season) is in the past and you can only learn from it. Just looking to a new start next year.’’
The netminder has been working with his “home’’ goalie coach Dustin Schwartz (who works with the Oilers) be, as well as Flyers goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh (remotely) during the summer.
“They’re all on the same page,’’ Hart said. “There are a couple things we’ve targeted. We’ve made a lot of good progress.’’
Although Hart wouldn’t get into specifics, no doubt rebound control and being a little more aggressive challenging shooters probably rank high on the list.
Over parts of three seasons with the Flyers, Hart has posted a 49-37-9 record with a 2.88 goals-against average .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 101 games. His first full season in the NHL of 2019-20 saw him post a record of 24-13-3 over 43 appearances with a 2.42 GAA and .914 save percentage.
On home ice, he posted a 20-3-2 record with a 1.63 GAA and a .943 save percentage; the 20 home wins were tied for the most among all NHL goaltenders, while his home-ice GAA and save percentage numbers led the league.
Hart made his first Stanley Cup playoff appearance in the 2020 Toronto bubble, going 9-5 with a 2.23 GAA, and .926 save percentage. He recorded consecutive shutouts in Games 3 and 4 of the first round series vs. Montreal to become the youngest goaltender in Flyers history, and second-youngest in NHL history, to record consecutive playoff shutouts.
In his rookie season of 2018-19, Hart became the second-youngest goaltender in Flyers history to appear in a game and the youngest goalie in Flyers history to win a game. He went a perfect 8-0-0 from Jan. 14-Feb. 9, which tied an NHL record for consecutive games won by a goaltender before his 21st birthday.
The 6-foot-2, 181-pound Hart was drafted by the Flyers in the second round (48th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
After two seasons of working with veteran Brian Elliott as sort of a designated “backup,’’ Hart will be competing with new partner Martin Jones (late of the San Jose Sharks) for playing time.
It should provide some healthy competition for both players. Jones has already gone on record to say he wants to compete for the starting job.
“I’ve heard great things about Jonesy,’’ Hart said. “I’m looking forward to meeting him here soon. That’s what you want, a good competition. . .we’ll push each other to be better in practice and off the ice. I think that’s only healthy that you have two goalies who compete hard to play games. I think in the long run it will only be better off for the team and ourselves.’’
Hart said he’s looking forward to hopefully a full, “normal’’ season. In his three seasons, he’s never had an opportunity to dress for the maximum 82 games – the last two seasons because of the pandemic.
“You can’t really judge that it (the pandemic) affected your season,’’ he said. “You don’t want to make excuses. But this year there definitely won’t be any excuses. We’ll have a full training camp. We’ll be ready to go for opening night. It’s a clean slate, a fresh start for everybody. With COVID going (last two seasons), hopefully we won’t run into any hiccups.’’