Morgan Frost

The Flyers' other top goalie prospect is back

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Tom Dougherty | NBCSP

The Flyers' other top goalie prospect is back

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Felix Sandstrom, G, 21, 6-2/102, Brynäs IF (SHL)
With as much noise as Carter Hart is making this season, it’s easy to forget about the other highly touted goaltending prospect in the Flyers’ pipeline. Sandstrom has not been featured much in this season’s Future Flyers Report, and it’s not because he’s fallen off.

Sandstrom, who turned 21 this past Friday, returned to game action last week after missing a few months with an injury. Sandstrom, loaned to IK Oskarshamn of the Allsvenskan as a plan to ease him back in,  allowed four goals on 60 shots in two games last week.

The plan, coming into the year, was for Sandstrom to spend one more season in Sweden before jumping overseas in 2018-19. Now because of injuries, one has to wonder if Sandstrom will re-up for one more season with Brynäs IF or stay on course.

Wade Allison, RW, 20, 6-2/205, Western Michigan (NCAA)
The Broncos returned to action last week after the winter break, and the stoppage didn’t slow down Allison. The sophomore continued his breakout season at Western Michigan, picking up two assists Friday as the No. 12 Broncos upset No. 2 St. Cloud State, 7-5.

On Saturday, Allison suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of WMU’s match with St. Cloud State and did not return, ending his four-game point streak.

Allison is one of three prospects tearing up the NCAA, joining Tanner Laczynski (Ohio State) and Cooper Marody (Michigan). The trio is among the nation’s top scorers. Laczynski’s 34 points are second, Marody is tied for third with 31 and Allison with 30.

Of the three, Allison has the highest NHL ceiling. Allison is one of three 2016 second-round picks, with Hart and Pascal Laberge being the other two. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Flyers try to convince Allison into leaving college early after this season.

Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, 18, 6-6/205, Guelph (OHL)
Ratcliffe has battled inconsistency during his draft plus-1 season with the Storm, but Friday night, he showed why Flyers GM Ron Hextall traded up in last June's draft to select him.

The 6-foot-6 winger potted two goals in Guelph's 4-2 win over Kingston. His first goal tied the game at 2-2, and he then won it with a shorthanded marker at 14:52 in the third period. On his first goal, Ratcliffe showed an incredible ability to score from in tight. The second goal, he displayed surprisingly quick speed for a player of his size.

In 41 games this year, Ratcliffe has 21 goals and 36 points with a minus-13 rating. He’s been a streaky player, either scoring in bunches or going games without scoring. That’s part of the maturation process, but you’d like to see a little more consistency from him.

Morgan Frost, C, 18, 5-11/172, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
As Frost continues to rake in the OHL, we’ll continue to feature him in this report. Frost extended his point streak to 20 games Saturday. He had six points in three games last week. He has 45 points during his 20-game point streak. He leads the OHL in points (71), assists (44), plus/minus (50) and fifth in goals (27). Read more about Frost here.

Quick hits
• Laczynski had a five-point weekend — one goal, four assists — against Penn State.

• Marody had a goal in each of Michigan’s two games against Minnesota. His teammate and fellow Flyers prospect, Brendan Warren, had three goals vs. the Golden Gophers.

• Hart stopped 31 of 33 shots in his first start for Everett on Saturday night in his first game since returning from the world juniors. Hart stopped 24 of 27 shots Sunday night to extend his WHL winning streak to 10 games.

• In five games since returning from the world juniors, German Rubtsov has three goals, including a two-goal game Sunday, and three assists for Acadie-Bathurst.

• It was a big week for Kelowna's Carsen Twarynski, who had two goals and four assists in three games. He’s up to 49 points in 40 games this season.

• Kitchener captain Connor Bunnaman ended a six-game pointless streak Sunday with an assist against London.

Anthony Salinitri had two goals and an assist in two games last week for Sarnia.

Flyers fans, don't be surprised by Morgan Frost … yet

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Photo: Aaron Bell | OHL Images

Flyers fans, don't be surprised by Morgan Frost … yet

Morgan Frost has taken just about the whole gamut by storm.

Whether it's Flyers fans tracking his progress or the hockey world keeping tabs on the game's future, Frost's jump in production would seem staggering to most.

Except for one person.

The guy who sees and knows the 18-year-old's game as well as anybody.

His head coach, Drew Bannister.

"I'm not totally surprised," the Sault Ste. Marie leader said Thursday in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Frost, a teenage center the Flyers drafted 27th overall last June, is the primary reason the Brayden Schenn trade doesn't sting as sharply as it could. The Flyers acquired the pick in the deal that sent the 2018 All-Star to the Blues, and while Schenn is on pace for a career season, Frost is in the process of shattering his personal bests in junior.

After putting up 20 goals and 42 assists in 67 regular-season games last year for the Greyhounds, Frost has 27 goals and 44 assists in only 42 games this season. His 71 points lead the OHL, as does his astounding plus-50 rating.

Talk about blowing up, right?

The scary thing is, Bannister isn't blown away. Instead, Frost may be sprouting with much more growth in store.

"I don't know if he's made huge strides this season, I think he's just continued his development," he said. "The biggest development I saw for him was probably in his first season here as a 16-year-old — from the first couple of months until after Christmas time was probably the biggest jump I've seen with Morgan. I think Morgan is just a little bit more comfortable in the position that he's been put in with his linemates and being a No. 1 centerman on his team here compared to the past couple of seasons. I think that took a little bit of time to adjust to, but now he's more comfortable, obviously playing some real good hockey and has for quite a stretch here now."

In 2016-17, Frost enjoyed feeding Bruins 2015 first-round pick Zach Senyshyn, who scored 42 goals on the wing before graduating to the pro ranks. So, last summer, Frost said he wanted to show he could do more than just pass — that his offensive game was expansive, that he could make a difference on the penalty kill and prove his defensive worth, as well.

This season has been his chance and Frost is flourishing.

"Morgan has had a little bit more opportunity this year than he has in the past and we're starting to use him more on the penalty kill and he's been very responsible," Bannister said. "We hold Morgan accountable to be better defensively. His all-around game, especially his play away from the puck, has gotten better. Not that it was poor before then, but I just see a more committed player away from the puck, the way he tracks pucks down. For him, he's creating more offense for himself and his linemates right now playing that way, and he's recognizing that, too."

Sault Ste. Marie implements a style in which it utilizes its skilled players on the penalty kill, resulting in greater pressure on the opponents' power play with the shorthanded unit looking to attack instead of ice the puck. Frost and company have parlayed that tactic into a league-leading 16 shorthanded goals and a top-10 PK (81.5 percentage). The team also won 23 straight games and is atop the OHL at 37-3-2.

"When you're down a man, you want to make sure that you have players on the ice that are making the right reads," Bannister said.

"Putting a guy like Morgan Frost in that opportunity this year certainly works in our favor. He's been doing a good job on it."

That's on top of Frost and his linemates, Boris Katchouk and newly acquired Taylor Raddysh (both NHL second-round picks), making for a matchup nightmare.

"They're seeing the best defensive pairing and they're seeing checking lines or another team's top line," Bannister said. "It's impressive that line and Morgan himself are able to defend and create offense against other teams' best players.

"What stands out for Morgan is his hockey IQ. It doesn't matter who you put him with, he's just going to make them better players."

Those abilities are what could make Frost a sleeper to crack the Flyers' roster next season as a 19-year-old rather than play a fourth campaign of junior hockey. If 2017-18 is any indication, it's that Frost is coming along … and pretty darn quickly.

"For me, he's going to play in the NHL, there's no question about that, it's just when is it?" Bannister said. "Nothing surprises me these days, but he could be in the lineup as early as next year. Who knows, right?"

Bannister hasn't been surprised by Frost.

He might know best.

Carter Hart elevates game on biggest stage

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AP Images

Carter Hart elevates game on biggest stage

As the Flyers’ bye weeks gets underway today, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Carter Hart, 19, G, 6-1/177, Canada
Canada is back on top of the junior world, and Hart is one reason why. Hart starred during the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships, and when you thought the hype machine couldn’t get louder, he elevated his game to another level on the biggest stage.

It’s hard to remember a Flyers goaltending prospect creating this much buzz, both locally and nationally, but Hart is genuinely one of the most intriguing junior goalies of the last decade. What he’s doing for Everett in the WHL is remarkable, and he redeemed himself in the world juniors after a heartbreaking loss in the 2017 games.

Hart saved his best for last, turning aside 35 shots in Canada’s 3-1 win Friday over Sweden to capture gold and was named the player of the game. He allowed just 11 goals on 156 shots in seven games, lost once, posted a .930 save percentage and had a shutout. He said he needed to be better before the gold medal game and he was.

Over the next few weeks, months and years, the excitement will continue to grow until Hart suits up as a Flyer. It’s hard to put a concrete timeline on when we could be seeing Hart occupying the pipes at the Wells Fargo Center, but as he turns pro next season at 20 years old, it’s a safe bet that he’ll reach the NHL level in 2019-20 when he’s 21 (see story).

Maksim Sushko, RW, 18, 6-0/179, Belarus
Perhaps one of the under-the-radar prospects at the world juniors, Sushko proved himself the cream of Belarus’ junior crop. Sushko, the Flyers' 2017 fourth-round pick, led Belarus with six assists and eight points in six games. He accounted for nearly 22 percent of Belarus' scoring, and he caught Flyers GM Ron Hextall's attention.

"He's a big player on that team. They don't have a ton of ability," Hextall said, "so he plays a big role, probably a bigger role than he would play with another country. He was playing 24 to 26 minutes. Too much for a forward but he's a big guy, a thick guy that can skate. He's got good sense. He's not going to be that type of player at the pro level."

Hextall said Sushko projects to be "more of a two-way guy that's not expected to score" in the pros. Still, Sushko made an impact and that's all the Flyers could have asked for.

Morgan Frost, C, 18, 6-0/180, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
The Greyhounds’ 23-game winning streak came to an end last Thursday, but Frost’s point streak stayed alive. Frost extended his streak two games. The 18-year-old accumulated 24 assists and 37 points over his 17-game point streak. He leads the OHL in points (65), assists (41) and plus/minus (plus-46).

College update
Ohio State’s Tanner Laczynski had a four-point weekend against Michigan State and now leads the Buckeyes with 10 goals, 19 assists and 29 points.

Cooper Marody stayed hot for Michigan. The junior registered an assist in the Wolverines’ 2-1 loss to No. 2 Notre Dame on Friday. He was pointless Sunday but now has 29 points. Both Marody and Laczynski are two points shy of the NCAA point lead.

Quick hits
• Good news for Felix Sandstrom. Sandstrom is healthy after missing two months injured. He’s been loaned from Brynäs IF to IK Oskarshamn to ease him back in.

• Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon was strong again last week in his one start. Lyon stopped 35 of 37 shots Friday night in Lehigh Valley’s 3-2 overtime loss to Toronto. He has a .944 save percentage in three games since returning to the Phantoms on Dec. 26.

Oskar Lindblom scored his 12th goal of the year Friday, which brought his goal streak to three games. That ended Saturday, however. He has 12 points in his last 12 games.

Pascal Laberge tallied his first two goals as a Rempart on Friday. He picked up an assist Sunday. He has two goals and three points in six games since his trade to Quebec.

• Hamilton’s Matthew Strome saw his nine-game point streak end Friday night. Strome recorded nine goals and 13 points during his point streak. Strome added a goal Sunday.

Carsen Twarynski had a three-point game Wednesday and a goal Friday. He now has 27 goals and 43 points in 37 games for the Kelowna Rockets.