Philadelphia Flyers netminder Brian Elliot will be out five to six weeks, the team announced Tuesday.
The 32-year-old from Newmarket has re-aggravated an abdominal injury and had surgery Tuesday to repair the issue. He missed four games earlier this month.
Elliott has played in 41 games this season and started 40, posting a 21-11-7 record. He has a 2.72 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.
Elliott’s numbers haven’t been stellar, but he’s done the job to keep the Flyers competitive on most nights and is responsible for 75 percent of their wins this season.
Philadelphia will turn to Michal Neuvirth in Elliott’s absence. He’s gone 7-7-2 this season and has the start Tuesday. He’s a solid netminder, but there will be some questions in the Flyers’ crease going forward.
And those questions could swing general manager Ron Hextall in the direction of making a deal with the approaching trade deadline. He has thus far been noncommittal about pulling the trigger, but one has to imagine the timing of Elliott’s injury doesn’t help the Flyers cement a playoff spot.
As of press time, Philadelphia is third in the Metropolitan Division with a 28-19-9 record. That puts them a point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and three points ahead of the New Jersey Devils. In other words, every game counts.
The Flyers have recalled goalie Alex Lyon from Lehigh Valley to back up Neuvirth.
There are a few possibilities on the trade market for Philadelphia to look into, but nothing’s a sure thing.
Anttii Raanta is a name that gets batted around a lot. The 28-year-old is stuck in Arizona on a sinking ship and the Coyotes will doubtlessly be sellers come late February. That could put a deal on the table for the Flyers.
Robin Lehner, Petr Mrazek and Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier are among the other possibilities on the trade block, so Hextall and Co. do have some intriguing choices if they make the call to deal. If not, waiting for Elliott will pay dividends of Neuvirth and Lyon can hold the fort.