‘Not-Yet-Elite 11’: Ranking of Philadelphia’s Most Promising Young Talent

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6.) D Shayne Gostisbehere-Flyers 

Oct 25, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (53) carries the puck against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings, 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

‘Ghost’ as he’s been dubbed by fans and scribes alike is as different from Sam Morin as one could imagine, but just as important if not more. Shayne Gostisbehere was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 Entry Draft. He attended Union College for two years and finished his college career with one of the most impressive individual performances one could envision at the collegiate hockey level.

In the 2014 National Championship game, Gostisbehere led his team to a 7-4 win over Minnesota. Gostisbehere was a +7 in the game, including a memorable goal as Union captured its first ever National Championship. A sophomore at the time, Gostisbehere decided to forego the remainder of his college career and sign an entry level deal with the Flyers.  With a skating ability that perhaps goes unmatched within the organization to go along with a refined offensive game and deceptively strong positional defensive game, Gostisbehere is one of a kind as far as the Flyers developmental system.

Despite a smaller frame (5’11”, 160 lbs), Gostisbehere demonstrated, albeit in a brief stint, that he can operate amongst the larger NHL players. He joined the Flyers for two games last season before being sent down to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to play a role that the organization expects him to hold down when he is properly seasoned.

Gostisbehere’s season was unfortunately cut short in February when he suffered an ACL tear during one of the Phantoms’ games. Though he did complete his rehabilitation in timely fashion, Ron Hextall felt it best to shut down his prized defenseman for the remainder of the season to avoid risking further damage. With a substantial turnover expected along the Flyers blue line over the next few seasons, the general manager can ill afford to lose a player who will likely serve as the team’s power play quarterback and top-four defenseman.

Though it’s just speculation at this point, many imagine that Gostisbehere and Morin are destined to serve as a pair when both of them arrive with the Flyers. Their respective skill-sets compliment each other quite well and the two have already discussed the possibility that they will line up alongside one another at the NHL level. Gostisbehere’s development is further along at this point than Morin’s, but the hulking blue liner figures to be the perfect bodyguard for his smooth-skating partner in the future. 

Much of this status going forward will depend on Gostisbehere’s ability to stay healthy as a smaller defender in the NHL. Former Flyer Kimmo Timonen was able to do so for the length of a storied career, showing it can be done. Talents aside, Gostisbehere also possesses an ‘it’ factor that could lead to him ultimately serving a leadership role on the team from a young age. He’s charismatic, talented, and a winner. Not the traditional triple-threat, but one this organization desperately needs.