Flyers

Flyers prospect Morgan Frost answering every question along path to NHL

Flyers prospect Morgan Frost answering every question along path to NHL

What more can Morgan Frost do?

It was a question many probably asked for him ahead of his final season at the junior level. Frost toyed with the competition in 2017-18, creating offense that looked unfair at times. The 2017 first-round pick finished with 112 points (42 goals, 70 assists) and a plus-70 rating in 67 regular-season games, as his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds dominated the OHL with a 55-7-6 record and 116 points.

Somehow, though, Frost found a way to get better, to improve the all-around makeup everyone has preached to him since he was drafted 27th overall by the Flyers.

This season, in his final year of junior hockey, everything is elite again from a production perspective. The next-level component is Frost molding the intangibles.

He hasn't settled, when he easily could have with more eye-popping numbers.

"There's not a lot for me to say to Morgan at this point," first-year Sault Ste. Marie head coach John Dean said last Friday in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "He's done everything we could possibly ask of him."

He's looking and sounding more and more like an NHL-ready player. 

The dexterous 19-year-old center put up eight points (four goals, four assists) in five games for Team Canada during the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. With the Greyhounds, he has 78 points (31 goals, 47 points) through 40 games.

But here's what has impressed Dean most:

Over the course of the year, I think the greatest thing that has been really fun to watch is to see what kind of a leader he keeps growing into. He leads by example, he puts the young guys under his wing and he's really growing into a 200-foot player.

When you have a player of Morgan Frost's talent and obviously being a first-round pick, when he welcomes you with open arms, it makes life easy on our young guys. 

But he also leads by example on the ice, he manages the puck properly, he makes sure that he knows when he should be making plays and when he shouldn't be. … He's smart in his own zone, he works really hard on the way back and he does it at appropriate times in the game. 

Obviously everyone knows him as an offensive player, but I think he has really evolved away from the puck. It's real easy to point to a guy like that to the rest of his teammates when he's doing the right things with the puck and without the puck.

A specific example of that came Jan. 20 during a game in which Frost scored five goals and "could have scored seven or eight with the opportunities that he got," according to Dean.

"But we were also down by two and he really, really maintained the composure of the bench, he continued to play the 200-foot game even when we were up by two or three goals," Dean said. "The example he set away from the puck, it's starting to get rewarded with the puck."

Over that weekend, Frost scored seven goals and nine points in two games.

And he didn't lose focus of playing the right way.

"I think the intangibles that he provided over the course of the weekend were arguably more important than the goals he scored," Dean said.

So Frost is again scoring at a prolific clip, he has gotten stronger, he plays on Sault Ste. Marie's first-unit power play and penalty kill, he's blossomed into a leader and is working both ends of the ice.

He's making the what-more-can-he-do question unanswerable.

"He's just too smart to not be put in all situations," Dean said. "He's a dependable guy, he knows how to play in those situations, he enjoys the pressure of those situations and, quite honestly, he thrives in those critical minutes of the game."

Frost will be shooting for the Flyers when 2019 training camp rolls around in the fall. He's set to turn pro in 2019-20 and you can bet his eyes will be on Philadelphia, not Lehigh Valley.

He has proven enough for that to be his goal.

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Sorry NHL trade buzz, sorry Flyers' playoff push — Oskar Lindblom's smile wins the day

Sorry NHL trade buzz, sorry Flyers' playoff push — Oskar Lindblom's smile wins the day

All the trade fodder and debate took a backseat.

Gaining ground in the playoff race and smelling first place felt inconsequential.

Quite frankly, nothing compares to Oskar Lindblom's smile.

Just ask the Flyers.

“Oh, it’s awesome. His smile, you know, he’s just a great guy to have around — he brightens your day," Justin Braun said. "The fact that he’s doing well and he’s able to come to the rink and see the boys is just fantastic.”

Lindblom, the Flyers’ 23-year-old forward who is battling Ewing’s sarcoma, surprised the team Saturday by greeting it after a 4-2 win over the Jets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Lindblom visited the entire team and staff in early-to-mid January, when he had begun his cancer treatment.

Once again Saturday, the Swedish native's vibrant smile uplifted everyone. It always does.

“Really good, really good to see him," Scott Laughton said, trying to put his emotions into words. "Just really good to see him.”

"It’s great to see him, I haven’t seen him in a couple weeks," Carter Hart added. "I'm sure he was happy to come to the rink and see the boys. All of us are happy to see him and he’s looking great."

The Flyers had a lot to be happy about Saturday. They strengthened their playoff chances, crept to within three points of the Penguins and Capitals in the Metropolitan Division race and general manager Chuck Fletcher watched his team further cement its status as a contender ahead of Monday's 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline (see observations).

But head coach Alain Vigneault's first postgame comments were about Lindblom.

“He was smiling," Vigneault said. "Great smile, looked beautiful.

“Makes everybody feel good. There’s no doubt that we’re all behind him, his teammates are obviously checking up on him on a regular basis and so is the whole staff.

"But to see him live, it’s just beautiful.”

For the the Flyers, it doesn't get better than that.

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Ahead of NHL trade deadline, Flyers give general manager Chuck Fletcher another win

Ahead of NHL trade deadline, Flyers give general manager Chuck Fletcher another win

BOX SCORE

The Flyers gave their general manager one more quality show before Monday's 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline.

Chuck Fletcher watched his club beat the Jets, 4-2, Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (35-20-7), who won their third straight, came into the action with a 79.6 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com. They sit in third place of the Metropolitan Division and are only three points back of the Penguins and Capitals (see standings).

Game 62 is the quickest the Flyers have recorded 35 wins since 2010-11, when the club got there at Game 53. The Flyers finished with 47 wins, 106 points and a playoff series victory that season.

The Jets (32-26-5), who entered holding the Western Conference's first wild-card spot, had their three-game winning streak snapped.

• Saturday marked the Flyers' final outing ahead of the trading period.

Alain Vigneault's club is looking more and more like a contender. The Flyers are 13-5-1 with an NHL-high 68 goals since Jan. 8. Over that stretch, only two teams have more points than their 27 — the Lightning (31) and Bruins (29). Overall, they're a top-seven team in the league.

Does the Flyers' standing give Fletcher more incentive to add to his roster? Or do the Flyers have enough to make a run?

“I like my team," Vigneault said before the game. "And for me, this is no different as any other day during the regular season. I know that Chuck looks at any option that can improve our team, he’s been doing that since the first day that I was hired. Now we’re into the final stretch. If there’s something that he feels can improve our team, he’ll definitely look at it. But I’m very happy moving forward with the players that we have here.”

Does Vigneault have a voice in the matters?

“I’ve got a nice French voice," the head coach said with a laugh. "So I’ll throw my two cents in there, it’ll be fine.”

• The Flyers didn't play their best game, but good teams win when they're not at their best.

They did enough and a solid first period made up for a subpar second period in which the Flyers were outshot 15-4.

• For all the talk about the Flyers needing to add depth at forward, Scott Laughton has given the club plenty of it.

He scored a pair of goals to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead at first intermission. In 40 fewer games this season, Laughton has matched his career of 12 goals set in 2018-19.

If the Flyers get Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) back or acquire a center at the deadline, Laughton would likely be pegged as the team's fourth-line center. Not bad at all.

Tyler Pitlick, another depth piece, scored a clutch third-period goal to extend the Flyers' lead to 4-2. Sean Couturier was the Flyers' other goal scorer. The team's role guys continued to play well.

• Flyers defensemen Ivan Provorov, Matt Niskanen, Justin Braun and Robert Hagg were very good against a big, skilled offensive team.

Braun finished with three assists.

• Carter Hart gave up a power play blast off the stick of Patrik Laine and a goal to Josh Morrissey.

Outside of that, he was stout again, improving to 16-2-2 with a 1.64 goals-against average at home.

He's a huge reason why the Flyers are 21-5-4 with a plus-45 goal differential in 30 home games.

• Shayne Gostisbehere (left knee) will wrap up his two-game conditioning stint tonight with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Vigneault said pregame that he expects Gostisbehere to return to the big club Sunday. The Flyers will have decisions to make heading into Monday (see story).

• Stick tap to Flyers director of sports medicine Jim McCrossin.

• The team is off from practice Sunday as the Flyers Wives Carnival will be held at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers practice Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before hosting the Sharks Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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