Well, this team’s offense has certainly looked better.
The Flyers’ postseason so far could be described as anything between “exciting” and “so irritating I’m about to spear this hockey stick through my TV screen.”
The Flyers’ offense, and specifically the power play, serves as the catalyst for much of the aforementioned rage. A lack of high-danger chances (let alone shots) despite the talent possessed by this team is deeply troubling.
There comes a point where re-shuffling the lineup becomes ineffective. At that point, the team either needs to simply get its act together, or new talent needs to come in. Here’s where we come to Morgan Frost.
With Farabee and Hart now mainstays in the lineup, Frost is arguably the team’s biggest prospect. He boasts two back-to-back >100 pt seasons in the OHL, a potentially very dynamic offensive skillset, and a start to his NHL career in which he got playing time with Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny, netting two goals in his first two games.
So he’s gotta be in the lineup, right? Yea… that’s not gonna happen. Throwing ice-cold water on this right now.
Now, before you start throwing full wine bottles at your computer screen (and major kudos to anyone who gets that reference), let’s go through some pros and cons of putting Frost in to shake this offense up.
Pro #1: His potential skill set is something the team needs now.
By now, we’re all aware of Frost’s early accomplishments. Multiple OHL seasons with over 100pts, appearances in the OHL and AHL all-star games, and 2 goals in his first two games in the NHL. He’s certainly made some big strides at those levels in his career. Carter Hart made some insane strides at those levels as well, and he’s carrying the team now. Obviously it’s crazy to compare a forward and a goaltender, but we’ve seen some success with highly touted prospects, finally. He boasts some good skating and playmaking abilities, and exhibits good hockey IQ. He’s got plenty to potentially contribute.
Con #1: He isn’t ready for the gauntlet of physical hockey that is the NHL Playoffs.
To apply the “Tale of the Tape” to Frost, he lists in at ~6’0, 180lbs. Not the smallest guy around, but also not that big. Anyone who’s watched playoff hockey knows how physical it can get. The matchup against the Islanders requires a physical style of play, hence why Nate Thompson is still in the lineup much to the chagrin of analytics fans. Frost most likely wouldn’t be throwing his weight around, so the style of play works to his disadvantage.
Pro #2: Getting him some playoff experience could benefit him in the long run.
Playoff hockey is like no other. Everything is on the line, and you’re facing the league’s best players while they’re (theoretically) giving their best. Frost getting some exposure to this can quickly let him see where he stands and what he needs to work on. That should ideally make for one hell of an NHL player in a few years.
Con #2: Getting him some playoff experience now is probably a bad idea.
As referenced in Con #1, putting him in against a team that stylistically doesn’t work that well for Frost, let alone the Flyers’ entire roster, isn’t a great idea. He’s not going to develop all that well when he’s getting knocked around and defensively hemmed into his own zone all game.
Pro #3: The offense isn’t productive enough as is, they may as well give it a shot.
I honestly can’t argue a ton with this. The Flyers’ top 6 is simply not getting enough done right now. Giroux, Coots, TK, Hayes, and Voracek have combined for 8 goals in 9 games so far this postseason and that’s not nearly enough to carry this team offensively, which you would expect the top 5-6 forwards to do. Throwing Frost and his potentially dynamic skill set into the mix *could* help jump-start the rest of the offense a bit.
Con #3: He hasn’t played a meaningful game in over 5 months.
One of the biggest narratives used throughout these playoffs is that the time off between the season stoppage and the postseason really affects the rhythm that the players get into. This is especially true when a player doesn’t even factor into any games in the bubble. I presume Frost came to the bubble as an emergency option in case a number of forwards were injured. In the meantime, he’s been spending his time watching the team as opposed to playing. You’d be bringing him in on a cold start, which immediately puts him so many steps behind the rest of the competition.
Con #4: Unless they try to re-kindle what little they had with the G-Frost-TK line, his likely lineup spot is somewhere in the bottom 6.
Frost put up 2 goals and 5 assists in 20 games, with his most favorable lineup spot being between Giroux and TK. A total of 7 pts in 20 regular season games isn’t the most encouraging when you’re looking for a dynamic forward presence. Presuming the Flyers’ top 6 would be a mix of Giroux, Coots, TK, Farabee, Hayes, and Voracek, this leaves Frost to the bottom 6. The 3C has been a weakness up until Scott Laughton was moved to 3C and had one of his better, if not the best, game since the round robin. Assuming Laughton’s relative success continues, this ultimately means he would slot in as 4C. Do we really want him to develop as a 4C? Unless Hayes drops off the face of the earth or Coots gets injured (*knocks furiously on wood*), he wouldn’t be likely to move up either. His potential lineup spot wouldn’t do him too many favors.
Con #5: He simply needs more time in the AHL.
Considering all of these things negatively impacting his development and adding in some feedback from Dan, our esteemed founder here at Brotherly Puck, it’s probably best we keep his development AHL-based. It’ll do him well to develop against some lesser talent and really hone his skills before making the jump to the NHL.
In Summation: Meh. The Flyers’ best need to figure it out themselves.
Essentially, putting Frost into the lineup leans much too heavily on a lot of *potential* fixes based on upside and not nearly as many certainties. The NHL playoffs are not where you want to play the strictly-potential upside cards, as the higher risk coming with them can mean the difference between moving on or moving home. It’s best to keep him as a last-second patch in case someone gets hurt, and let’s hope we don’t have to have that conversation.
– Brian Adams (@BadamsProblems)
Photo Creds: NBC Sports