Morgan Frost

Flyers prospect Morgan Frost loaned back to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley

Flyers prospect Morgan Frost loaned back to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley

The move felt inevitable when Joel Farabee was ready to return from the flu.

After two games and two healthy scratches, Morgan Frost was loaned to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley on Friday night.

To give them a lift down the middle, the Flyers called up the 20-year-old a week ago, which allowed Claude Giroux to shift back to left winger. Farabee was sick at the time. When the 19-year-old winger came back, Frost became the odd man out as Scott Laughton moved to third-line center.

In order to stay up with the big club, Frost would have had to seriously shine during his two-game stint in which he went scoreless over 13:01 minutes per night. Connor Bunnaman, a 6-foot-3, 214-pound center, deserves credit for his reliable and smart play in a fourth-line role alongside Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

The Flyers are not keen on the idea of a skilled playmaker like Frost featured in a limited role. They'd rather have him playing big minutes for the Phantoms to further his development and certainly not sitting as a healthy scratch at the NHL level.

There's a chance Frost, considered the organization's top prospect, could see his third call-up of the season to help the Flyers down the stretch. If they're in desperate need of an offensive spark, they could move Laughton or Michael Raffl to fourth-line center, which would free up a more suitable opening for Frost.

The Flyers are playing well, though, with 24 games left in their pursuit of the playoffs. Frost will continue to build his confidence in the minors and be ready if called again.

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Flyers recall top prospect Morgan Frost for a few reasons

Flyers recall top prospect Morgan Frost for a few reasons

When the Flyers sent down Morgan Frost in late December, it was believed the move would not be for good.

Forty days since his demotion, Frost has returned.

The Flyers on Friday night recalled their top prospect and loaned Andy Andreoff to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Frost's call-up is about a few things.

Playing at center, Claude Giroux has gone scoreless over the last four games, his longest drought of the season. At practice Friday, Giroux moved back to left winger alongside Sean Couturier, who has served as a common spark plug for his linemates.

Giroux and Couturier have always brought out the best in each other, so, if that decision sticks, it would be a logical attempt by head coach Alain Vigneault to get his captain going offensively.

However, it leaves the Flyers even thinner down the middle. Without Giroux at center, the Flyers were pegged to go up against the experienced Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals Saturday with Andreoff, who is more of a winger, and rookie Connor Bunnaman as their bottom-six centers. Keeping Scott Laughton on the wing makes sense because he has played so well there.

So the Flyers needed some help at center and were shut out, 5-0, by the Devils in their previous game Thursday. Frost, a skilled 20-year-old center, can provide a lift with his well-publicized playmaking ability.

During his first taste of the NHL, the 2017 first-round pick hit a bit of a wall production-wise after scoring two goals and three points in his first two games. In the following 16 games, Frost had four points (all assists) and a minus-4 mark, while his minutes decreased.

Frost's play could dictate how long he stays with the Flyers. His play could also have a say in the team's Feb. 24 trade deadline plans.

Fellow rookie Joel Farabee will miss his second straight game Saturday because of the flu. When he returns, the Flyers won't have to make a roster move, but they would likely have to sit a young forward if they don't.

Frost is back for now, though, with a chance to show he can impact the Flyers' playoff run.

After Friday's practice, here's our best guess for the Flyers' lineup at forward Saturday:

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl-Connor Bunnaman-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

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The fine balance of Flyers' process will have great say in NHL trade deadline motives

The fine balance of Flyers' process will have great say in NHL trade deadline motives

VOORHEES, N.J. — As Chuck Fletcher watched Philippe Myers push the puck up ice and Travis Sanheim finish with the game-tying third-period goal Monday night, the Flyers’ general manager remembered a key aspect to the organization’s process.

In Fletcher’s first full season as GM, the Flyers have improved and are vying for a return to the playoffs. They entered Tuesday four points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and holding the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

They are also very young. They’ve played 11 rookies so far and have given numerous auditions to prospects in hopes of solidifying their bottom six.

Nothing has been set in stone as their depth at forward and down the middle remains up in the air, particularly with the absences of Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

All of which will make the Feb. 24 trade deadline an interesting time for Fletcher in his decisions to either add to the club or trust its younger internal options.

Fletcher got a tip when he saw the 23-year-old Sanheim and 22-year-old Myers deliver a huge goal in the Flyers’ 6-5 shootout win over the Bruins.

“You go back to that 4-on-4 sequence where you have got a couple young defensemen who have had some ups and downs this year,” Fletcher said Tuesday at Flyers Skate Zone. “Sanheim throws the puck to Myers. They are both jumping up there, leading the rush. Myers throws it back to Sanheim. Sanheim goes on a third effort and scores a goal. You kind of get reminded a little bit of the need to be patient with young players.

“That was a tremendous goal. Those are great players on the ice for the Bruins. We’ve got a lot of these kids to grow, so I don’t know that we’re looking to bump too many guys out of key spots right now. Certainly if we can increase our depth, find another guy to help in certain situations, I think we’d be very open to that.”

Cap-wise, the Flyers are not in a favorable position to make a huge acquisition at the trade deadline unless it likely involves current players on the roster, not just draft picks or prospects. The Flyers have only $579,444 in cap space, per CapFriendly.com.

“A lot of teams are up against it,” Fletcher said of the cap. “You have to maybe look at including players in the deal. It’s hard to trade a fourth-round pick for a $4 million player. With our group right now, I don’t know that’s what we’re looking to do. If we can improve our team, we will.

“We're a decent offensive team but the main reason why we're trending better this year is our defensive play."

A couple of in-house players who could once again force the Flyers’ hand — or at least make looking outside not as appealing — are Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost, two of the organization’s top prospects coming into the 2019-20 season.

The 19-year-old Farabee has been with the Flyers for 37 games and plays the right way with an advanced hockey IQ. Currently seeing lesser minutes, Farabee has three goals and 12 points. The 2018 first-round pick is regarded as a point-producing winger. If he can provide a lift in secondary scoring, the Flyers can feel more comfortable pushing forward without external help.

“We've been talking to teams all year to see if that's a way we can improve, that makes sense,” Fletcher said. “But clearly, I think over time, the young guys will get better. I mean, Joel Farabee's got three goals this year. My guess is he won't have three goals this time next year.

“He's obviously going to get better and better. … So young guys tend to take those steps. Will it be this year? I don't know, I think it's going to be a little bit of both.

“The thing with Joel is his game is so much more advanced than the other kids away from the puck and defensively. He's one of our best forwards in terms of puck management and game management.”

Frost gave the Flyers an offensive jolt in November and is now back with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley for further development and to regain some confidence. After scoring two goals and three points in his first two NHL games, the 20-year-old center had four points (all assists) over his final 16 games.

The 2017 first-round pick’s ability to make plays down the middle can potentially help the Flyers both offensively and with lineup flexibility.

“If he's the best player and deserves to be here, he'll be here,” Fletcher said. “We have been trying to balance that long-term development versus short-term help for the Flyers and there's been a lot of juggling.

“Hopefully over the next couple weeks he continues to grow, build that and feel good about his game. You love bringing kids up when they feel good about their game, when they're in a good spot.”

With the deadline nearing, the Flyers won’t lose focus on development, but they will have to find out if their kids are enough to make the present about the playoffs again.

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