The struggles of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart last season have been well-documented.
Trying to replicate his play from a breakout 2019-20 campaign, things went south as the pandemic took its toll on the 23-year-old netminder.
In 27 games, he posted a miserable .877 save percentage along with a 3.67 goals-against average as the Flyers collapsed down the stretch in March to eliminate any hope of contending for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Now, with a new season set to begin on Friday night at Wells Fargo Center against the Vancouver Canucks, a rebound season from the franchise netminder of the future will be imperative to the Flyers’ chances of getting back to the postseason.
The Flyers made a concerted effort to beef up the defense in front of Hart, adding veterans in Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Keith Yandle to the blue line in an attempt to improve their status as the worst defense in the NHL last year.
It will undoubtedly help Hart’s potential rebound season, but the pressure to perform will be on not only for him, but for the Flyers’ future.
Philadelphia’s new backup, Martin Jones, doesn’t instill much confidence to stabilize the crease should Hart encounter those similar struggles.
From 2015-2018 with the San Jose Sharks, Jones’ .914 save percentage and 2.40 goals-against average was stellar. Since then, his save percentage has plummeted to .896 with a 3.04 goals-against average over the next three seasons.
Should the reclamation project work out, that much more pressure is taken off Hart’s shoulders. But for now, oddsmakers aren’t anticipating that great a season from him as his odds to win the Vezina Trophy — awarded to the league’s best goaltender — are significantly down compared to a season ago, when some picked him to win the award:
2021-22 Vezina Trophy odds
- Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL: +380
- Darcy Kuemper, COL: +1000
- Connor Hellebuyck, WPG: +1000
- Marc-Andre Fleury, CHI: +1000
- Field (any player not listed): +1200
- Philipp Grubauer, SEA: +1200
- Carey Price, MTL: +1400
- Semyon Varlamov, NYI: +1400
- Thatcher Demko, VAN: +1500
- Petr Mrazek, TOR: +1500
- Robin Lehner, VGK: +1500
- Igor Shesterkin, NYR: +1800
- Jordan Binnington, STL: +2000
- Alex Nedeljkovic, DET: +2200
- Jack Campbell, TOR: +2500
- Sergei Bobrovsky, FLA: +2500
- Chris Driedger, SEA: +2500
- Juuse Saros, NSH: +2500
- Calvin Petersen, LAK: +3000
- Carter Hart, PHI: +3000
- Cam Talbot, MIN: +3000
- John Gibson, ANA: +3000
- Linus Ullmark, BOS: +3500
- Antti Raanta, CAR: +3500
- Jacob Markstrom, CAL: +3500
- Anton Khudobin, DAL: +3500
Odds courtesy of DraftKings