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Carter Hart Is Still a Developing Goalie

Goaltenders are different. They have different personalities than most hockey players and their development curve is different. Nobody has had to develop goalies in a bubble or during a pandemic before, so there was no blueprint for that. Hart wasn’t at his best last season, but he’s still only 22 and has only played 101 NHL regular-season games. That’s not a lot.

“There are a couple of areas in the offseason that we’ve highlighted,” Hart said mysteriously. There are a couple of things we targeted and have made good progress.”

I’ve always heard that goalies could take until 25 years of age to reach their peak and in many cases start getting regular NHL starts. There are always exceptions, like Hart, who was up at an early age. Jordan Binnington was that guy, He is the best example of it. He was 25 and he helped lead the St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup coming out of the other side as champions.

There are elements in Hart’s game that have to be worked on. I’m not a goalie expert but I spoke to Kevin Woodley, the managing partner of InGoal magazine who is one.

“I always believed Carter would be a great NHL goalie because of his technical foundation, mindset, and work ethic, but from the technical side, a lot of the core elements of that foundation seemed to get lost more and more as last season went on, to the point it was hard not to wonder if he was chasing changes that might make him just like most other goalies in the long run, rather than going back to the base that made him so special and got him to the NHL so soon. He’s a no-stone-unturned kind of goalie, always looking for ways to get better, so I don’t worry about the mindset or work ethic other than wondering if some of those extras he does to prepare might become overwhelming amid the rigor of a full NHL season, as has happened to some other goalies. To me, the big question is if he chases change or goes back to that technical foundation, but whatever way he goes, Carter has his work cut out for him this season because any early mystique in the eyes of shooters is gone, and that edge is not always easy to get back.”

Well said and very true. The Flyers gave him the correct contract (3-yr, $3.979 AAV) and the player now has to earn it and the next one with the kind of play the organization expects from a #1 goalie. Martin Jones wants to compete for that top spot and that’s good for the team.

“I’ve heard great things about Jonesy and I’m looking forward to meeting with him,” Hart added. “I’ll see him soon. That’s what you want. You want good competition between the two tendies. Me and Jonesy will push each other in practice and off the ice. You want to have two goalies that compete hard to play games. In the long run, it will be better for the team and ourselves.”

There is pressure and expectations. There’s no getting around that.

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