Flyers

Former Flyers assistant coach Rick Wilson's comment on Shayne Gostisbehere a key reminder for 2019-20

Former Flyers assistant coach Rick Wilson's comment on Shayne Gostisbehere a key reminder for 2019-20

Maybe Shayne Gostisbehere and Rick Wilson weren't best friends.

That's OK.

A player and coach don't have to be buddy-buddy with each other, but they do have to understand each other. That's how you get the best out of a player.

In 2018-19, Gostisbehere underwhelmed significantly. He didn't blame anyone but himself. But he did play for two head coaches and two different assistants that oversaw the Flyers' defensemen. So, systematically and stylistically, things can change.

Wilson, with 30 years of NHL coaching experience, came on board in December. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman caught up with Wilson for parts of his latest 31 Thoughts column, an always-excellent read for hockey folks.

The 68-year-old Wilson, who was not retained by the Flyers, offered some insight on the team's blueliners after working with them for the final four-plus months of the season.

Here was the section on Gostisbehere from Friedman's piece:

Wilson did not mention Shayne Gostisbehere, so I brought him up. He was careful.

'I would just say that I'm a little disappointed I couldn't help him bring more of his best on a consistent basis … he is very talented and it is in there.'

By the time the calendar flipped to 2019, the Flyers were allowing the NHL's third-most goals. In an attempt to clean up the team's issues, adjustments were made. Gostisbehere's ice time fluctuated at different points. The 26-year-old is an offensive-minded defenseman. His game is predicated on playing freely, taking calculated risks, moving the puck up ice and making things happen.

At his end-of-the-season press conference, Gostisbehere was asked if he felt he had the freedom to take chances on the ice throughout the year.

"With Rick coming in and different coaches and whatnot, they tweaked the style — not just me personally, but how he wants the defense to play," Gostisbehere said. "I wouldn't say they put handcuffs on me or anything, but they pulled the reins back quite a bit just in what they wanted us to do collectively as a D core."

None of this is to say Gostisbehere is some type of player incapable of being coached. None of it's to say his role isn't safe with the Flyers. He doesn't have a problem listening or taking instruction. His strengths, though, are sometimes criticized and put under a microscope for being viewed as not playing his position wisely or correctly.

"I just want to get better, get better as a player, I want to be a staple point as a defenseman in this league — one of the better ones, not one who's just looked at offensively," Gostisbehere said in April. "It's tough when you start a season and you see the net filling up and we're giving up seven goals every other game. Changes happen. It's tough, it was a tough season in general, but you've got to stick with it and remember what got you there."

All of this is further emphasis on how imperative coaching is to a player like Gostisbehere. Getting the best out of him is vital to the Flyers. When he's clicking, when he's dynamic, when he's elusive, the Flyers are substantially better. That was evident in 2017-18, when he experienced a career year with 65 points (13 goals, 52 assists), the fourth most among NHL defensemen.

"Ghost is obviously elite in some of those areas," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in April. "He can break a guy down 1-on-1 and he can also make a 100-foot stretch pass."

Alain Vigneault and Mike Yeo are Gostisbehere's new coaches. How quickly the two mesh with an important player will be one of the biggest storylines in 2019-20.

"He's always been a believer of getting the puck going north and getting the D up in the play," Fletcher said of Vigneault. "I think our D is ideally suited for Alain."

That should be music to Gostisbehere's ears.

h/t to CBS Philly's Tom Dougherty.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Ready for Flyers' roster? Play the wing? Morgan Frost will have chance to answer

Ready for Flyers' roster? Play the wing? Morgan Frost will have chance to answer

The Flyers played eight preseason games last year.

Morgan Frost appeared in just one.

At best, the 2017 first-round pick held an outside chance to win a roster spot. With only one game to work with, in actuality, Frost never had a shot. From the outset, he appeared destined for his fourth and final junior hockey season instead of the Flyers' lineup.

"I mean, I got to play in the one exhibition game," Frost said last month at development camp. "I didn't really get to do as much as I could, but I think I was just getting my feet wet. It would have been nice to play another game or two and kind of really get to show [myself]. It's always tough when you kind of jump into a one-game situation like that. Hopefully this year I'll get some more games to prove myself and take it from there."

This fall, it'll be a whole new ballgame.

Frost should have a more realistic fight for the Flyers.

"I'd like to think so, yeah," Frost said.

"I think your chances when you're this young get better every year because you turn into a better player and you know what to expect when you're in camp."

At development camp, Frost hit on plenty of good points when discussing 2019-20.

He's a year older, which always helps. That fact also means he's now ready for pro hockey, whether it's the Flyers or AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Another important note: Frost will be playing in front of a new coaching staff and general manager this time around. Having to win over a new regime can be seen as a challenge, but it's also an opportunity.

I don't think it changes the way that I approach things or how I play or carry myself, but it's a new staff — they're going to have open eyes and a fresh look. Just continue to do me and I'm not going to try to change anything.

- Frost

In 2018-19, Frost experienced another dominant year. The dizzying playmaker torched the OHL again by scoring 109 points (37 goals, 72 assists) with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Over his final two OHL seasons, the 20-year-old center put up 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games. On top of that, he dazzled through the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship with four goals and four assists in five games for Team Canada, which lost in the quarterfinals.

"What they always said is that when you're playing in a medal round or a gold-medal game, it's almost like an AHL playoff game — that's the pace that it's in," Frost said. "It's definitely a lot quicker than the OHL and you're playing against all elite players that are around my age. That was probably the best experience I've ever had playing hockey. It was a lot of fun, it was too bad we didn't do better."

The experience should help Frost's transition to the pro level. Once again, he'll head into training camp with added weight; he's around 187 pounds and his goal is 190. 

"You can see the way he thinks the game and sees the ice — he can make plays," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said. "Whether he's ready physically to handle the rigors of the NHL, training camp will dictate that."

He'll also head into camp with a third-line job up for grabs. That vacancy appears to be on the wing, not at Frost's natural position. However, Frost said he played winger in world juniors and at times during the OHL season alongside 2018 fifth overall pick Barrett Hayton.

"I've played wing before," Frost said. "It's definitely not my strong suit right now, but I can definitely adjust to that."

This year, the Flyers have seven preseason games. What will Frost try to prove?

"Just that I belong," he said. "You have to do stuff to stick out but at the same time, you want to blend in with the better players. Just try to do everything I can to make an impression."

Frost should expect more than one game — and he'll know to make them count.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Scott Laughton, Flyers agree to 2-year, $4.6 million contract

Scott Laughton, Flyers agree to 2-year, $4.6 million contract

No arbitration for Scott Laughton and the Flyers. Not even close.

Laughton and the Flyers on Friday agreed to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value of $2.3 million.

The restricted free agent and the club had an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 30. It's not surpring they never got to it.

This is a good deal for Laughton — and deserved. It's an honest contract for a player that has paid his dues. The 25-year-old's previous contract was a two-year, $1.925 million deal with an average annual value of $962,500.

The 2012 first-round pick has found his niche in the NHL, becoming one of the Flyers' more vital depth pieces. During 2018-19, Laughton delivered career highs in goals (12), assists (20), games (82) and ice time per game (14:51). Just as importantly, Laughton has turned into a valuable penalty-killer as he was second on the team last season in shorthanded ice time (183:52), behind only Sean Couturier (184:51).

The Flyers' 2018-19 campaign was ravaged by inconsistency, but Laughton always played hard and stood out with his effort on the PK. He is slotted to be the Flyers' fourth-line center in 2019-20, between Michael Raffl and possibly Tyler Pitlick.

"When you look at Laughts and Raf, they play some heavy minutes, they can grind it out in the offensive zone and make it hard for the opposition and change momentum," former Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said in March. "So the next line that comes out there can have an easier time because the previous line from the opponent couldn't get onto the ice.

"Those guys are invaluable and they are just as important as guys that are putting up the big points."

Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, both not arbitration eligible, are the Flyers' remaining RFAs. Provorov's new contract could take time as both sides appear to be at somewhat of a standstill, while Konecny could be in for a bridge deal (see story).

"I expect as the summer goes on, we'll continue to chip away at this," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday via a conference call. "The market will continue to flesh out as we go and we'll get there; we'll get there by the end."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers