When Felix Sandstrom finally came over to North America to play for the Flyers last season, hopes were high for the then-22-year-old to work through the ranks quickly as an eventual number two to Carter Hart. But upon his transition to North American ice, things didn’t really go as planned.
He was sent to the ECHL to start his career with other rookie prospect Kirill Ustimenko as Alex Lyon and J.F. Berube held down the fort for the Phantoms. Sandstrom was seemingly overwhelmed early in his tenure with the Reading Royals and quickly lost the starting gig to Ustimenko, who struggled out of the gate as well, but was able to right his ship before Sandstrom and locked down the starting role until he was promoted to the Phantoms in late February.
Sandstrom did end the season strong and finished with a lackluster 3.27 goals against average and .885 save percentage in 25 appearances.
Now, with the 2021 season turned upside down due to covid, usual starter Alex Lyon is currently apart of the Flyers’ taxi squad and counterpart Kirill Ustimenko out for the season after undergoing hip surgery last month, meaning Felix Sandstrom will be the man for the Phantoms this season.
The Phantoms did sign goalies Zane McIntyre and Eamon McAdam to contracts to help Sandstrom during the season. McIntyre, 28, has six AHL seasons under his belt, most recently spent with the Binghampton Devils. McAdam, 26, graduated from Penn State in 2016 and has spent much of his professional career in the ECHL.
Now is Sandstrom’s chance to take the starting reins and prove he is still the Flyers’ top goalie prospect. He will have an improved defense in front of him to aid in his efforts as Derek Pouliot, Wyatte Wylie, Yegor Zamula, Linus Hogberg, and Mason Millman will start the season with Lehigh.
It’s not his first taste of AHL hockey, he does have two games under his belt, one game in relief where he stopped all seven shots he faced in 2019-20, and one game from 2018-19 when he allowed three goals on 42 shots.
The ceiling is still high for Sandstrom, who just turned 24 on January 12. And now with nobody standing in his way he will have every chance to prove he can hang at the professional level, and if he can impress, it’ll make the Flyers front office’s offseason that much more interesting as not only is his contract up, but so is that of Alex Lyon and even Brian Elliott. Time will tell how the season shakes out for the Swedish netminder, but he’ll have every opportunity to prove he belongs in the Flyers’ system.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com