DALLAS – Goalie Michal Neuvirth is on the verge of returning to the Flyers’ lineup, general manager Ron Hextall confirmed before their game in Dallas on Tuesday night.
It would not be surprising if Neuvirth (2.61 goals-against average, .915 save percentage) got the call Wednesday in Denver against Colorado. He has not played since suffering a lower-body injury Feb. 18.
“Neuvy is getting real close,” Hextall said, adding that when he returns, Alex Lyon will probably remain with the team, giving them three goaltenders.
“We have more goalies than we have defensemen,” Hextall cracked.
Hextall said goalie Brian Elliott, who has not played since Feb. 10 and underwent core-muscle surgery three days later, was making progress and that he still believes he will play in the final week of the regular season.
“It’s not easy for a goalie to be out so long. The hunger factor is there,” Hextall said. “You’re hungry to play.”
Entering Tuesday, the Flyers were 8-6-3 in the last 17 games that both Neuvirth and Elliott had missed.
Goalie Felix Sandstrom, 21, signed an entry-level contract Tuesday with the Flyers.
The 6-foot-2, 191-pound Sandstrom missed a lot of his season in the Swedish Hockey League with an abdominal injury. He will probably play one more season in Sweden before making the jump to the AHL’s Phantoms or the Flyers.
Because of his contract in Sweden, Sandstrom is not permitted to play for the Phantoms next season, Hextall said. He could play for the Flyers in 2018-19, but that seems highly unlikely.
Sandstrom played on three teams this season but never got into a rhythm. compiling a combined 8-10 regular-season record with a save percentage around .900.
“He didn’t have the momentum he had two years ago,” Hextall said. “The season didn’t start out well because he had an issue, healthwise, and he never got back” to where he was.
Sandstrom, a third-round draft pick in 2015 (70th overall), and Carter Hart are considered the Flyers’ goalies of the future.
Hart, 19, who dominated the Western Hockey League, figures to play next season with the Phantoms. He was selected in the second round (48th overall) in 2016, and he had ridiculous regular-season numbers (1.60 GAA, .947 save percentage) for Everettt.
College free agents
Hextall said he didn’t expect the Flyers to sign any college free agents.
“We never go after a lot of guys. We go after a select group,” he said.
Hextall said free agents haven’t been enamored with the Flyers this year because they know they have a deep farm system and most spots are already filled.