After Paul Holmgren built a Stanley Cup caliber team from 2007 to 2010, he made a series of moves that ultimately cut his time at the helm short, the first of which was trading a first round pick and a third round pick for then-Maple Leafs forward Kris Versteeg. After just 27 games in Philly, Versteeg was dealt to the Panthers during the 2011 offseason for a pair of draft picks, one of which was ultimately used to select college standout defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere in the third round of the 2012 draft.
Even after an ACL injury limited his development when he made the professional jump during the 2014-15 season, he came back stronger for the 2015-16 season and eventually stuck with the main roster full time. Gostisbehere set a few records along the way. He quickly made his name by scoring multiple overtime goals in the same season, recording a point in 11 straight games, smashing the record previously held by Barry Beck, and his 15-game point streak was the third longest of any rookie since 1988. He finished the season with 17 goals and 46 points in 64 games.
Even though he was drafted by Holmgren, Gostisbehere was the first prospect to show up during Hextall’s reign. He set the expectations high right out of the gate. It was very early in the transition from the wild-west Holmgren days to the calm, slow Hextall era. Ghost’s early success made plenty of fans comfortable with the idea of drafting and developing players because they will no doubt all be stars one day.
Though after years of struggling to replicate his early success and free-falling down the depth chart, he got traded for literally nothing as a means to an end of the Flyers building a successful hockey team. It wasn’t even the first time the organization tried to give him away over the last few months. He was put on waivers before the trade deadline, but nobody claimed him, and he was left exposed for the Seattle expansion draft, once again going unclaimed.
Of course, the underwhelming team over the last six seasons was not all his fault. Though in a symbolic way, his entrance to the league and trade away from the Flyers coincided with the beginning and end of the patient era of Ron Hextall. All the hype he delivered early in his career and the hope that one day he could rekindle that fire he once possessed despite evidence to the contrary is a metaphor for Ron Hextall’s Flyers.
At his peak, Shayne Gostisbehere was an electrifying hockey player. At his worst he was a reckless offensive defenseman that couldn’t do either well. It’s been six years since that awesome rookie season took place and will live fondly in the memories of the fans who got to experience it. Though he had overstayed his welcome in Philly and a less than glorious exit from the City of Brotherly Love.
You know how the saying goes, You either die a hero or live long enough to watch yourself become the villain.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com