Philadelphia Flyers: The case for Morgan Frost at 3C

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

With training camp only weeks away, the 2018 Philadelphia Flyers will start the year with a new look, and they will attempt to fill several roster spots with promising young talent from within the organization. One spot that should be up for grabs is at third line center.

Like most sports, the start of NHL training camp typically brings with it a high level of speculation regarding roster spots, system changes, and no shortage of player expectations. It’s something of a ritual among fans and members of the media to make calculated and sometimes bold predictions regarding the makeup of the final roster at the end of the preseason. So begins another year where the Philadelphia Flyers will have yet another opportunity to add some young talent to their already young and burgeoning roster of players.

GM Ron Hextall’s moves, or lack thereof at the NHL draft and during free agency, indicated a shift in philosophy for the organization and signaled that the Flyers were ready to begin tapping into their youth. Gone are the days of signing big name free agents and plugging holes with aging veterans and plodding defenseman.

No, The Flyers will now go in a different direction. In some ways, they already have under Hextall. With Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Nolan Patrick all making the team in their inaugural years, the Flyers already showed they were willing to deviate from past philosophy and roster building strategy.  That trend will continue this season.

More from Philadelphia Flyers

Just how many young players crack the roster out of camp remains to be seen, but it is widely believed that there will be several names to watch during the preseason. One of those names will be Morgan Frost.

Frost was drafted in 2017 with the 27th pick after Hextall trade Brayden Schenn to St. Louis, securing him an additional first round pick in the process. The selection was viewed with a bit of a question mark initially, as Frost was a bit undersized and didn’t seem ready for NHL play. But Hextall is known for drafting players with high hockey IQ, and he clearly had that in mind when evaluating Frost.

Fast forward a year and a half, and the narrative surrounding Frost has changed quite a bit. After the draft, Frost returned to action in the CHL playing for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, where he proceeded to light the league on fire.

In 67 games with the Greyhounds, Frost amassed a whopping 42 goals and 70 assists, totaling 112 points. That’s a scoring pace of 1.67 points per game, which is downright impressive, and that’s underselling it.

Frost has a tremendous opportunity to join the Flyers at the NHL level this season. He has a chance to follow in the footsteps of players like Sean Couturier, Provorov, Patrick, and Konecny by making the rare jump from junior hockey right to the NHL. But it won’t be easy.

Hextall has proven that he will only keep a young player up if that player proves in camp that he belongs, and if there is a roster spot for him. He will not risk the development of the player just so he can make the NHL club better. Hextall and his staff have to believe that the player is ready for the grind of the NHL schedule, which can wear on a young player over the length of a season.

One thing working against Frost right now is his size. He currently stands right around 6-feet, which is fine for an NHL center, but his weight is another thing. At the end of the junior season, Frost weighed in at about 172 lbs, according to Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post. That’s not ideal for playing pivot at the pro level. But Frost recently said he’s now walking around at about 184 lbs, which is much more of an NHL caliber weight.

That is certainly good news for those who want to see Frost make the team at center this season. Look no further than Travis Konecny, who is only listed at around 175 pounds. Konecny has transitioned quite well to the pro level, although he plays wing, a position that is not as physically demanding as playing center. So the argument for Frost making the team is certainly a viable one.

Frost is a very skilled player with excellent skating ability and probably the best pair of hands in the Flyer’s farm system. He’s flashed his silky mitts at the team development camps in both of the last two years, in addition to impressing members of the hockey media with his obvious hockey sense. The Flyers simply love these types of players.

Related Story. Robert Hägg deserved better last season. light

Frost will push Hextall to absolute limit during training camp, and he will probably be one of the last players remaining before Hextall makes his final roster decision. The path certainly won’t be an easy one for Frost, who will no doubt have his hands full at camp.

Frost certainly projects as a productive NHL center right now, but it’s often hard to tell what a player’s ceiling will be in the pros until they get on the ice and play with the bigger bodies. Luckily for Frost, he won’t be battling to take over the first or even the second line center spot, as those positions should be occupied by Couturier and Patrick for the foreseeable future. What the Flyers need right now is a third line center, and that is where Frost would fit right in.

For most of the last two seasons, Valtteri Filppula manned the third pivot spot for the Flyers, and the results were sub-par. In 2017, Filppula scored a measly 11 goals with 22 assists, was a minus 7, and his Corsi-For Relative to his teammates was a frightening -7.4. Needless to say, Hextall basically had no choice but to move on from the once great Finnish player.

It’s time the Flyers injected some youth into the third line.

But the battle for that center spot won’t be an easy one, as Frost will likely have to beat out longtime organization hopeful Scott Laughton, Jori Lehtera, Mikhail Vorobyev, and possibly even Jordan Weal, who has recently entered the discussion.

The real battle likely comes down to Frost and Laughton. From a pure talent standpoint, Frost should win that battle hands down. But Laughton has the experience factor, although he still has not proven he can be anything other than a competent fourth line player. The Flyers are either going to finally give Laughton his chance to shine in a top 9 role, or he’s going to cede that opportunity to a better, younger and more dynamic player.

light. Related Story. Jordan Weal is an intriguing option at 3C

Laughton is a decent NHL player and has owned his role as a checking line player the past few seasons when he was with the club. He’s just never been the kind of guy who could produce offense consistently when the given the opportunity. Defensively, Laughton is solid and that is why the coaching staff trusts him as a penalty killer and situational player. But playing third line center is a different story, and the Flyers are going to need more from whoever takes on that role.

Frost should win the camp battle, as long as he comes in healthy and with some added weight. He’s the kind of talent the Flyers desperately need on the third line. One of the biggest weaknesses of the Flyers over the past three seasons has been a lack of scoring depth in the bottom six. Frost would immediately provide a better solution to that problem than Laughton, Lehtera, or Weal.

Next. Travis Konecny will rise to stardom this upcoming season. dark

Look for Frost to make an immediate splash at training camp and during the preseason schedule. He will likely be the player to watch leading up to the opening of the regular season.