This certainly didn’t seem like a question that would be posed a few months ago, but now it may be a real talking point heading into the Seattle expansion draft this summer. Shayne Gostisbehere was once a promising young defenseman in the Flyers organization and dazzled his first few seasons in the league, breaking long-standing records during his rookie campaign and following that up with 65 points two years later. Though things quickly went south as his last few seasons have been plagued by injury and lack of production has put him on the brink of the Flyers’ roster.
By his own admission, he entered this season fully healthy (albeit a bout with Covid during training camp) since 2017-18 and was ready to reclaim his spot on the blue line. While he never looked bad for long stretches this season, he has clearly had some trouble earning the trust from the coaching staff to not only see consistent ice time, but to not be scratched all together.
Shayne Gostisbehere’s standing with the organization has been in limbo for quite some time. From being in Alain Vigneault’s doghouse (and pretty much every coach’s since he arrived here) to being placed on waivers as a way to potentially get rid of him, one has to wonder if the Flyers are eager to ditch the Ghost Bear?
When it comes to Seattle, the Flyers have two methods of approach, the 7-3-1 or the 8-1, something we broke down a few weeks ago, and if they do indeed go the seven forwards, three defenseman, one goalie route, Gostisbehere may be the odd man out on the blue line.
Their three obvious protections on defense will be Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Phil Myers, and no matter how bad the last two have been, both hold more value than Ghost, either via trade or on the ice.
Phil Myers has had an incredibly rough second full season in the league. From scoring just one goal to struggling night in and night out to play defense, his development path has come to a bit of a question mark. Even though he’s 24 he’s got just 111 NHL games under his belt, so Myers does have at least some benefit of the doubt when it comes to his overall potential in the NHL, and can chalk this season up to growing pains if he can re-find his game next year.
Sanheim, on the other hand, has been one of the most disappointing players for the Flyers this season. He’s been a boarderline useless defenseman, a decline that started during the postseason late year and doesn’t seem like there’s an end in sight. Whatever flashes of brilliance he shows from time to time get overshadowed by his lackluster effort on his own zone.
Shayne Gostisbehere would be all about a reclamation project, putting your eggs back in his basket and hoping this one improved season isn’t a fluke. Can they trust Ghost to get back into that upper echelon offensive defenseman category despite years of evidence to the contrary?
Myers and Sanheim almost have to be protected, even if they’re not in the future plans, simply because their trade value is higher, which may come in handy of the Flyers look to wheel and deal this offseason to repair holes throughout their lineup.There is a good chance, however, if Ghost is left exposed that he’d be the guy Seattle selects if Chuck Fletcher can’t work out a deal to shed the contract of Jake Voracek or James Van Riemsdyk. Would they rather pick Robert Hagg, Justin Braun, Nicolas Aube-Kubel or Shayne Gostisbehere. That seems like a no-brainer for the Kraken, even at Ghost’s $4.5 million cap hit.
If the Flyers really felt strongly about protecting Ghost, they could go the 8-1 route and leave Lindblom and Laughton exposed at forward. Though there’s a good chance one of those two wouldn’t survive the cut and is losing one of those two worth keeping Gostisbehere?
Shayne Gostisbehere has certainly served his time in Philadelphia, and became one of the more frustrating players in recent history in the process. Even if he somehow survives the Seattle expansion, does he have a future in Philly? Who knows. With young guns Cam York and Egor Zamula on the horizon he may be the odd man out regardless of the outcome in his bout with the Kraken. The defense will be under the microscope this summer and may face a much needed facelift that could mean the end of the Ghost Bear era in Philly.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: inquirer.com