Flyers

No longer watching James van Riemsdyk, Flyers prospect Morgan Frost gets eye-opening audition

No longer watching James van Riemsdyk, Flyers prospect Morgan Frost gets eye-opening audition

VOORHEES, N.J. — If Morgan Frost had trouble sleeping last night, it would be completely understandable.

On Wednesday, when he saw his name written next to James van Riemsdyk's, his eyes widened.

"It was pretty cool," he said Thursday.

And for a few reasons.

Not only is this his best chance to showcase himself as he pushes for the Flyers' roster, but he's also playing alongside a guy he watched as a kid.

Growing up in the Toronto area, Frost was a Maple Leafs fan. From 2012-18, van Riemsdyk played for Toronto and delivered a pair of 30-goal seasons. On Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center, the 20-year-old Frost will center van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek in the Flyers' third preseason game.

Pretty cool, huh?

"I was watching the Leafs a lot, so I've watched a lot of him and kind of know what he's about," Frost said of van Riemsdyk. "I like to be a playmaker and he can obviously score goals, so if I can set him up, I think there's a good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net."

Frost is just as excited for the opportunity. He played one preseason game last year before being sent back to his junior club and missed the Flyers' first two exhibition games this week because of a groin injury. If anyone knows that preseason games are precious, it's Frost. 

Here, he gets a golden chance to make an impression on the Flyers' front office and coaching staff. Over the past six seasons, Voracek owns the NHL's seventh-most assists, while van Riemsdyk has scored the league's 19th-most goals.

"You want to put players in a situation where they can have success," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "That's what we're trying to do right now. It does not mean that Frost might not come back at some point and be on a fourth line, but right now, there are some spots that are available."

Leading up to camp, it appeared Frost's best shot at the Flyers was along the wing given the team had a bottom-six opening at the position. With Nolan Patrick's injury, Frost's window of opportunity has opened much more. Vigneault said the Flyers, right now, want to watch Frost at center and see what he can do between high-end talent.

"The battle for the bottom six is, in my mind, fully on," Vigneault said. "It's good. We've got some decisions to make in those positions."

Frost put up 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games over his final two junior seasons with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

"You hear all the scouting reports on him," van Riemsdyk said. "Highly, highly skilled, very productive player, good instincts, smart player."

While Frost watched van Riemsdyk as a fan, Maple Leafs connections helped JVR learn a little bit about the prospect.

"The first time I remember hearing about him was in training camp last year," van Riemsdyk said. "Talking to some of my former teammates in Toronto who had played against him and I heard the same things — super, super skilled, really smart player."

Since being drafted 27th overall by the Flyers in 2017, Frost hasn't had an audition like this one. Just how quickly can he show the Flyers he's ready for the part?

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Ivan Provorov

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Ivan Provorov

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Ivan Provorov. 

Destra

From the minute his name was announced in the 2015 NHL draft and Provorov was on his way to the Flyers, there was a strong sense of hope for the future of the team’s blue line. That feeling has only continued to grow since — with its current peak being the 2019-20 season. 

A big part of this was thanks to the acquisition of seasoned defenseman Matt Niskanen. He not only gave Provorov the ability to be a force during every one of their shifts, but was also a true veteran leader for the 23-year-old. In prior seasons, Provorov displayed his strength and the potential of what he could become in years to follow — this is the year that narrative changed. What a treat it has been to watch someone so young, with the talent and discipline he has, put his name on the map. 

There’s no denying that Provorov is a workhorse — he led the team in time on ice with 24:51, led defensemen in points with 36 (13 goals, 23 assists). This season he also reached career milestones of 100 points and 300 games played. By the looks of the player he’s quickly becoming, it’s safe to say this is just the beginning. 

A+ for the future (and the now) of the Flyers’ blue line. 

Fordyce 

The addition of Niskanen has done wonders for Provorov’s game and as a result, this year we’ve seen him be more of a force on both ends of the ice. Much of that is because of Niskanen’s positionally sound play that allows Provorov to freelance from the opposite point. Another key to Provorov’s season was his health. Last season, Provorov was returning from an injury suffered in the previous season’s playoffs and it showed; he looked like a totally different player.

While Provorov still has some work to do, as most players do, he’s taken a huge step this season. Flyers Postgame Live analyst Al Morganti has often referred to Provorov as the “adult in the room” despite his young age. Last season was a departure from that sort of reputation for Provorov. This season though, Provorov returned to that form and clearly will be a mainstay on the Flyers' blue line for the long-term future. 

An A for Provorov.

Hall

Provorov, the team's Sean Couturier on the blue line, once again didn't miss a contest (he has suited up in 315 straight since the start of his career), played the league's eighth-most minutes per game at 24:51, led all NHL defensemen in power play goals with seven, and led Flyers blueliners in goals (13), points (36), blocked shots (111), shorthanded ice time (189:30) and man advantage ice time (210:05).

The winner of the 2019-20 Barry Ashbee Trophy has become a bona-fide do-it-all defenseman for the Flyers at 23 years old.

A- for Provorov's impressive rebound in Year 1 of the 2015 first-round pick's new contract.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Tyler Pitlick

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Tyler Pitlick

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Tyler Pitlick. 

Destra

After earning his first point with the Flyers in the opening game of the season, it took a little bit of time before Pitlick found a rhythm with his new team. Little did anyone know in those opening weeks, that he would soon become a huge asset to the bottom six on the roster. 

Much like the Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen trade in the offseason, trading Ryan Hartman for Pitlick didn’t seem too significant at the time and created more questions than answers. It turns out, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher knew exactly what he was doing. While there were a handful of rookies like Joel Farabee and Nicolas Aube-Kubel adjusting to the pros, Pitlick added a level of solidification to the bottom lines. He, alongside players like Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl — who are well-known for their steady performance — made each of the Flyers’ four lines weapons. 

Through 63 contests, Pitlick tallied 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) and would be a valuable asset moving forward with the Flyers. 

Let’s give Pitlick a B for an overall solid season. 

Fordyce 

Early in the season, you didn’t notice Pitlick much and while sometimes for a player like Pitlick not hearing his name is a good thing (as it means he’s doing his job), that was not the case for Pitlick in the early going as he struggled. As the season wore on though, Pitlick carved out a nice role for himself with the team and began to flourish.

A simple look at his game log in 2019 shows that Pitlick was a minus player 10 times, but after the calendar changed to 2020, Pitlick had a minus rating only three times. In addition, later in the season Pitlick developed more of an offensive game, chipping in with goals and assists from time to time. After struggling at the start, Pitlick overall turned into a reliable veteran down the stretch. 

He gets a B from me.

Hall

When the Flyers acquired Pitlick last summer, he explained his game:

"I'm a physical, north-skating player. I can score and make plays when I get the chance. I'm going to be physical and I'm going to create energy and compete as hard as I can."

Pitlick was a man of his word. He provided exactly that to the Flyers in the 2019-20 regular season. It's fair to say among the Flyers' other offseason acquisitions — Kevin Hayes, Niskanen and Justin Braun — Pitlick came with the least hype, but he became a pleasant surprise as a consistently effective bottom-six forward.

With each game, you never questioned Pitlick's effort because he was always noticeable by playing his active, north-south style. When you're constantly noticeable in limited minutes, you're doing something right.

Pitlick joined the club with an attractive $1 million cap hit and a contract set to expire this offseason. He then played his way into consideration to be re-signed by the Flyers. Good for him.

A well-earned B+ for Pitlick.

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