When the Philadelphia Flyers stepped up to the podium during the first round of the 2017 draft and selected forward Morgan Frost 27th overall with the pick the just acquired when they traded Brayden Schenn to St. Louis, they had hopes of snagging an elite offensive performer under the radar as he was projected to be a mid-second round pick. While his junior numbers were incredibly impressive, just shy of a two-point-per-game pace during both seasons after he was drafted, that success hasn’t followed him to the professional level yet.
Frost failed to make the Flyers roster out of camp in 2019, instead finding himself on the Phantoms for most of the season. He did manage to get his feet wet in the NHL, suiting up for 20 games from November to December 2019. With a bulk of his ice time coming in the AHL, he was tasked with developing him game and adapting to professional hockey. By season’s end, he did have a decent stat line, posting 13 goals and 29 points on an anemic Phantoms’ offense.
He was in the running for a roster spot in 2021, but was beat out by the returning Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick. When he was given an opportunity a few weeks into the season, he only suited up for four periods before a shoulder injury ended his 2021 campaign prematurely.
Still on the outside looking in, and the Flyers roster in limbo heading into a critical offseason, one has to wonder where Frost fits in?
Morgan Frost is a playmaker, plain and simple. He’s got some silky smooth hands and is capable of dazzling offensive displays. It’s one of the overall few strengths he’s shown during his professional tenure. The limited success he had in the NHL, including his first goal, came while riding shotgun with Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny. And there were few nights where he’d make it through a game in Lehigh Valley without adding some incredible play to his highlight reel.
When he’s removed from that role the weaknesses in his game are left exposed. He’s listed at 5’11 and 170lbs which is fairly small, even in today’s NHL. Overcoming his size was a big issue, no pun intended, that he had with the Phantoms. When you’re that size, It’s an adapt or perish situation in the big leagues.
But it’s not about his size, it’s about what he does with it. Some people get too hung up on his frame, but it’s not his body itself, it’s the role he plays on the team. Smaller guys can succeed in depth roles. Just look at Nicolas Aube-Kubel, he’s listed at 5’11 196lbs. He is not a big dude, but he plays a big, physical game and can handle himself deeper down the depth chart, Frost just isn’t that type of player. He’s a much more offensively-drive elusive speedster, he’s not necessarily built to take on the biggest players in the league.
When it comes to Frost’s spot in the lineup, that’s when his strengths and weaknesses get put to the test. The problem is, as an undersized playmaker, he’s best served in the top six where he can feed the best players on the Flyers and avoid battling fourth line grinders, but therein lies the issue; Those spots are at a premium right now and there isn’t much room for an unproven risk like Frost.
Putting Frost on the third line center spot and flanking him with, say, Lindblom and Aube-Kubel doesn’t give him the best chance to succeed. Maybe in the wake of Kevin Hayes’ return from injury he’ll get worked slowly back into the lineup and the team could use Frost as a 2C? Though with months to recover and a full preseason and training camp to prove he’s good to go, that me be unlikely. It also doesn’t bode well for him that the Flyers signed Derick Brassard and Nate Thompson, both depth centers that are insurance policies in case Frost isn’t ready or can’t hang in the NHL.
Taking a look at the landscape of the Philadelphia Flyers, it’s hard to paint the picture and include Morgan Frost on the main roster next season. Sure, they could plop him on the fourth line to start the season and let him sink or swim on his own, but he shouldn’t be the type of player that should deal with that kind of hurdle. If the Flyers can’t find a real place for Frost to display his talents, trading him seems like the best outcome for not only the organization, but for Frost himself. He’s a valuable trade chip that, in the right scenario, can more than likely be a regular in somebody’s top six. It’s going to be a busy summer for Chuck Fletcher, but when the dust settles in October, will there still be a Frost warning in Philly?
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: courierpost.com