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.

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Joel Farabee's window to make Flyers' roster is open — but just how much?

Joel Farabee's window to make Flyers' roster is open — but just how much?

Because of his wheeling and dealing over a 13-day stretch ahead of July 1, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher made no more than a peep when NHL free agency commenced.

For Joel Farabee, that peep must have sounded like it came through a megaphone.

The Flyers have an opening for a third-line winger. Fletcher viewed other holes as higher priorities for outside solutions. As free agency rolled around, the Flyers had already reshaped their defense, acquired a No. 2 center and brought back Brian Elliott, leaving little cap space left for wingers on the market.

Fletcher then shifted his focus to depth moves and his restricted free agents.

All along, that was the plan — maybe even going back to when the 19-year-old Farabee signed his entry-level contract in March, deciding to turn pro and forgo his final three years of college eligibility. That's when Farabee to the Flyers in 2019-20 at least became a plausible thought.

"There is a wing spot open right now, so obviously that's my goal — to make the team," Farabee said last week at development camp. "I'm pretty realistic — if I'm up and down, if I don't make it this year, I wouldn't be surprised. I've just got to prepare to either play in Philly or in Lehigh, so that's where I'm at right now."

The Flyers have given themselves a security blanket with their bottom six, especially if a youngster is unable to seize a job or struggles after winning one. Fletcher on Monday signed Andy Andreoff and Kurtis Gabriel for added depth. He has created some financial flexibility and also believes the Flyers could benefit from opposing teams in need of relief after spending July 1.

And as Fletcher has noted, things can change from now until training camp. Things can also change during training camp and through the early season.

"I don't foresee another move as we get closer to camp, but there are a lot of teams that are going to have significant challenges this summer," Fletcher said Monday. "I don't think I've ever seen this many teams over the cap or at the cap — that's when you factor in the future signings they have to make here with their RFAs and to fill out their roster. There could be opportunity.

"We have a lot of options. That's what training camp is for — it's an opportunity for players to come in and show that they belong.

"It should be an exciting camp."

Farabee, a skilled goal-scoring winger with length (6-1/175) and speed, will have his chance to excite. He was college hockey's best freshman during 2018-19, leading Boston University in goals (17), points (36), power-play goals (five), shorthanded goals (three), game-winning goals (five), plus-minus (plus-4) and shots (131) over 37 games. With the immediate acclimation and the Flyers' outlook, the 2018 No. 14 overall pick realized it was time for professional hockey.

His position, versatility and strengths all make sense for the Flyers and that precious third-line vacancy, a spot many will be eyeing.

"The whole college experience for me was really good," Farabee said. "I have my education, I can always go back and get [my degree]. If something happened in hockey, I can always do that. As far as the season, I thought I had a really good year. Talking to the staff here, they thought making a jump was a good play. I was all for it.

"I think just the way I play, they said I can kind of fit into pro hockey and play a lot of different roles and stuff like that. I think that was the biggest thing and after having a pretty good year at B.U., it was an easy decision for me."

The Flyers' staff clearly backed his decision, which ultimately came down to Farabee and his family.

"He was at B.U., which is a great program, and if they decided to stay for another season, we would have fully supported it," Fletcher said at development camp. "Joel made the decision that he felt he was ready to turn pro in consultation with people around him. That's a personal decision. 

"He's still a young man that has to get stronger and probably put on a little bit more weight to fully handle the rigors of an 82-game NHL season. But in terms of hockey sense, skill, skating, passion to play the game — he has all of those elements already. It's just going to be a question of time and really maturity. Watching him out here, his talent stands out."

He'll have to win over management and coaches with his readiness. Follow all the signs, though, and there's an open path for Farabee to the Flyers.

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Flyers development camp: 5 observations from 5-on-5 scrimmage

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Zack Hill, Len Redkoles/Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers development camp: 5 observations from 5-on-5 scrimmage

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers Skate Zone featured a full house Saturday night as 2019 development camp culminated with a 5-on-5 scrimmage.

Fans packed the practice facility and Gritty even checked out the team's future by making an appearance.

Team Orange notched a 3-2 win over Team White in a fun, up-and-down game.

Let's get into five observations from the night:

1. Center of attention

German Rubtsov looks the part. 

From a physical standpoint, many of the prospects in camp still looked like kids, but Rubtsov did not. He is filled out and stands like an NHL center. He also plays like one with his hockey IQ and how he commands the pace.

The 2016 first-round pick stood out in all aspects, from positioning to using his body to make plays under control in a game that understandably had a frenetic style at times.

"He looks good," Flyers player development coach Kjell Samuelsson said. "He's healthy, he's fit and he can play."

He's on the Flyers' radar (see story).

2. That's some line

Team Orange sported a first line of Isaac Ratcliffe, Morgan Frost and Bobby Brink.

Not bad, right?

This year, Ratcliffe scored 50 goals, Frost had 109 points and Brink became a second-round pick.

The group was impressive Saturday. Ratcliffe scored a goal and Brink netted the game-winner. On Brink's goal, Ratcliffe started the play with a nice reverse pass in transition. Frost had an assist and created a ton of chances, to no surprise.

Ratcliffe and Frost were a part of the same 2017 draft class and have become great friends.

"That's really been a goal since draft day," Ratcliffe said of playing alongside Frost. "That was the first time I met Morgan, too, went up to the box there at the draft after the second round earlier in the day. That was the first time we said hi together. We kind of laughed about playing together one day on a line for the Flyers. To get a first taste of it today was pretty exciting and fun."

After the game, each player on both teams had the opportunity to take a shootout shot.

Frost wowed everyone with this:

He really likes that move.

3. There goes that Cam

Cam York is a smooth and dynamic skater. Just with his size, mobility and puck-handling, he sort of reminds you of Shayne Gostisbehere. York is 5-foot-11, 174 pounds, while Gostisbehere is 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.

Moving the puck means better possession and playing less defense.

At one point during the first of the two periods, York carried the puck into the offensive zone and kept it on his stick as he surveyed his options. If you didn't know, you'd think he was a forward on that play.

"Mobile defensemen," Samuelsson said, "that's today's hockey."

4. Seventh-round sleeper

Keep an eye on Wyatt Kalynuk in 2019-20. He'll be a captain on a talented Wisconsin team that is adding 2019 top-15 draft picks Alex Turcotte and Cole Caufield.

Kalynuk is an excellent skater with good size (6-1/181).

He's come a long way since being taken in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. After 25 points in 37 games as a sophomore, he appears primed for a breakout junior season with the Badgers.

5. King Felix

Felix Sandstrom was impressive all camp, in the 3-on-3 tournament and the 5-on-5 scrimmage.

The 2015 third-round pick is 22 years old and put up a 2.16 goals-against average this past season playing against men in the Swedish Elite League.

He'll be with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley in 2019-20. You never know, he may be needed sooner rather than later with the Flyers to help Carter Hart and company.

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