When the 2019-20 season started, there was supposed to be a logjam at center. Nolan Patrick was supposed to come in and take the third line center role to continue to build on a solid finish to the previous season, and Morgan Frost was supposed to make the jump to the NHL after much fan fair during his junior career.
Neither ended up happening.
Nolan Patrick started the season on IR, which he never ended up leaving, and Frost started and finished the season in the AHL after a lackluster 20 game NHL debut. During Chuck Fletcher’s most recent update, Patrick is still on the sidelines, and Morgan Frost will accompany the Flyers to the playoffs as a black ace.
Frost’s game finally started to look composed at the AHL level in the last few games before the season was cancelled, leaving a hope that it will click for him during his next shot in the NHL. Now the question becomes “who makes it back to the NHL first?”
Chances are that Frost sees at least some ice time in the playoffs for one reason or another, but it will probably be a clean sheet for both starting next season, provided Patrick is healthy, but obviously, that is the big question.
A migraine disorder has kept Patrick on the sidelines all season. During a Brotherly Pod interview with Kurtis Gabriel, he may have let a detail slip about Patrick’s real injury-
“..so I know this is been a big thing in Flyers nation and stuff since I signed, but you know obviously I had that suspension for hitting Nolan Patrick. But this is how hockey guys are, this is how we are. On the first day of training camp we’re in the Flyers main team locker room, and I walked around the corner and there’s Nolan Patrick (who I never met in my life). I immediately go ‘Hey man. What’s up? How you doing?’ and then I said, “Hey, I totally didn’t mean to hit you like that man. I was so committed and I was so fired up. I am trying to stay up here, and there was a little turn at the last second…mostly my fault obviously”. And he goes, “Dude, it’s fine”. So I asked him, “Did it affect your head” or whatever, and he touches the back of his head and says, “No, I got a puck in the ear and like all different other stuff”.”
It’s just a minor detail, but it puts a face to Patrick’s mystery injury the team has kept quiet all season. It could be a migraine thing, it could be an equilibrium thing. Either way, he was skating with the team during practice for the last few weeks of the season, but wasn’t cleared to play, even long after the regular season was paused.
If Nolan Patrick still is not ready to go by the time next season rolls around, that third line center roll could have Morgan Frost’s name all over it. But if Patrick is cleared in the upcoming couple months, then the long-delayed logjam rears its head again.
The easy solution is moving one to win and keep the other at the 3C position. Patrick is more than likely the better center of the two, and it would be of greater benefit to Frost to line up with some of the better players on the team to make sure his game can flourish at the NHL level.
Two young players with plenty of potential, facing their own struggles to make the NHL, fighting for the same spot on the roster. The race will continue next season, and for the betterment of the future, one can only hope they both make the roster and build a competitive nature between them to elevate the whole team.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcphiladelphia.com/broadstreetbuzz.com