When it comes to NHL goaltenders, size helps.
Only two goaltenders below 6-foot-0 have played an NHL game this year – 5-foot-10 tenders Jaroslav Halak and Juuse Saros. Saros has been one of the best goaltenders in the league this year, while Halak has had a career spanning 16 seasons with two Jennings Trophy wins and an all-star game appearance to his credit.
Most goalies are 6-foot-2 and above, with many of the top goaltenders standing a bit more north. From the past five Vezina Trophy winners, Andrei Vasilevskiy is 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Connor Hellebuyck is 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds and Pekka Rinne is 6-foot-5 and 216 pounds.
The obvious? Bigger goaltenders cover more of the net. So what about a guy that’s 6-foot-8?
Enter Ivan Fedotov, Philadelphia’s seventh-round pick from 2015. An Olympics with no NHLers offers an opportunity for players to seize opportunities. And that’s exactly what Fedotov is doing.
The Flyers prospect is serving as Russia’s starting goalie at the Olympics, a job that was quite wide open with questions about the team’s crease situation being abundant at the start. Being 80 inches tall definitely doesn’t hurt.
Fedotov had two shutouts to open the tournament against Switzerland and Denmark before beating the Danes again in a superb quarterfinal performance. His one real knock was the game against the Czech Republic, a 6-5 overtime loss, but the Russians struggled on the penalty kill and the Czechs took advantage of that.
He made up for it with great showings in the quarterfinal against Denmark and Sweden in the semis, making him the favorite to win the top goalie award following the gold medal game.
Fedotov finished his first season with CSKA Moskva with a 14-10-2 record with two shutouts, a 2.00 GAA and a .919 save percentage. Over the past three seasons, Fedetov’s .925 save percentage is 10th among goalies with at least 80 games played and just 10 percentage points off the lead, with his best two seasons carrying save percentages of .931 and .925. Most of the top KHL goaltenders typically have higher save percentages than what you’d typically see in the NHL, but we’ve also seen goalies like Ilya Sorokin and Igor Shesterkin jumping over to the NHL with little difficulty.
So where does that leave Fedotov, one of just four NHL-affiliated goaltenders to play in Beijing? Potentially in a really good spot.
Fedotov is a pending UFA in the KHL, and as Philadelphia Hockey Now’s Sam Carchidi reported, the team has looked into signing him and that both sides “will continue speaking as his season comes to an end.” The KHL’s regular season won’t resume and will instead head right into the playoffs on Feb. 22.
So a decision on Fedotov’s future might not be far away. And at 25, there might not be a better time for him to come over if the Flyers believe he could make the team better.
Carter Hart is signed for another two years after his season, with 22-year-old prospect Samuel Ersson being the only other goalie signed past 2021-22. Kirill Ustimenko and Felix Sandstrom will both become RFAs, while 32-year-old Martin Jones is a pending UFA.
The Flyers will likely explore the free agent market to find someone to work with Hart, but could Fedotov make his way over to the AHL next season and gets some spot starts when injuries arise? Perhaps. There’s still a lot for Fedotov to accomplish this season.
We’re not talking about a future star with Fedotov. He’s a late-bloomer, but one rising at an interesting time for a Flyers team that looks headed for a rebuild. At the very least, the Flyers could bring him over to get him some AHL playing time for a year or two to see where they hope to take him next.
If Fedotov was to ever play in the NHL, he’d be the tallest goalie in the history of the league. And if the Flyers have their way, that might actually happen. As KHL teams look to sign players in the near future, don’t be shocked if Fedotov makes a trip to North America in the coming months.