ALLENTOWN, Pa. – As the Philadelphia Flyers returned from their time away from the ice due to the league-wide COVID-19 shut down; news came out that teams would be allowed to carry a 31 man roster with them into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With this announcement came the news that nine players who spent significant time with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms or other minor league affiliates would be making the trip with the team to Toronto.
In an ongoing series, I am going to profile each of these players and discuss the impact they’ve made for the Phantoms (or their respective clubs) this season and what impact they could have if they get the call from the Flyers to suit up.
For the purpose of this article, I defined “significant time” as having played more than nine games for the Phantoms, Flyers ECHL affiliate Reading Royals or the player’s junior hockey club during the 2019-20 season. Because of this, players such as Joel Farabee, Philippe Myers, Chris Stewart, Samuel Morin, and Shayne Gostisbehere will not be covered.
Heading into the bubble with the Flyers will be forwards Andy Andreoff, Nicolas Aube-Kuble, Connor Bunnaman, and Morgan Frost. Defensemen Mark Friedman, Andy Wellinski, and Egor Zamula. Finally, backing up Carter Hart and Brian Elliott in net are Alex Lyon and Kirill Ustimenko.
With this much-added depth and a roster that has pretty much carried over from the stoppage of play in March, many of these players will be waiting in the wings in the event of an emergency, but as we have already seen with the injury to Flyers forward Michael Raffl, this is a constantly evolving situation and things could change at any moment.
Today, I’m going to focus on one of the players that might be one of the first to get the call and one that is considered by many to be the top prospect in the Flyers organization, Morgan Frost.
On September 27, 2019, the Philadelphia Flyers made a move that many were expecting but that didn’t hurt any less, Morgan Frost was going to be assigned to Allentown to start the season. After a solid training camp where he showed flashes of the potential that fans had been hearing about for years and the skill that led to a 109-point season for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2018-19, many thought that the then 20-year-old from Aurora, Ontario could crack the roster and make the big club; but it wasn’t meant to be.
Frost played his first game in the Phantoms orange and black, against the Providence Bruins on October 5th, 2019 but didn’t net his first point until almost two weeks later. On October 18, Frost finally broke out of his shell with a three-assist night against the Binghamton, Devils at home. From there he didn’t look back, scoring his first professional goal the next night against the Springfield Thunderbirds in the second night of his seven-game point streak.
By November it was a question of when, not if, Frost would spend time with the Flyers during the season. On November 18th, we finally got that answer.
Despite a strong first few games, Connor Bunnaman was being sent back to Lehigh Valley and with the lingering migraine issues with center Nolan Patrick, it was time for Frost to take his position down the middle in Philadelphia.
Fans were elated when on his first night with the team Frost was a standout, and one of the only bright spots, in a 5-2 trouncing at the hands of the Florida Panthers. Frost was all over the ice that night and added his first goal as a Flyer. Two nights later in Carolina, Frost continued the momentum scoring his second NHL goal to go along with an assist to Claude Giroux on the eventual game-winning goal that snapped the team’s four-game losing streak.
From there Frost began to cool down, settling into a complementary role but only adding four more assists and no goals during his remaining 18 games with the club before being loaned back to the Phantoms on December 28th.
Frost returned to the ice for the Phantoms on January 3rd, 2020 against the Laval Rocket’s and got his first point since returning to the AHL the next night with an assist in a 5-3 loss to the Belleville Senators.
Through the final 25 games of the season, Frost had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points. Combined with his 12 points before his original call up, Frost finished the season with 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 41 AHL games played, finishing second only to Greg Carey for the team lead.
After the cancellation of the AHL season, Frost suited up in two more games for the Flyers where he got around 13 minutes of ice time per game. He was a +1 but was unable to register any points against either the Washington Capitals or the Florida Panthers.
So what does this mean for the NHL Playoffs?
In the grand scheme of things, Frost is more than likely the fifth center on the current Flyers make up with late-season additions Derek Grant and Nate Thompson filling out the bottom six at center. Both are dynamic, gritty veterans who were brought to the club specifically for experience down the stretch. Both are a calming presence centering lines surrounded by young players such as Aube-Kuble and, with the latest injury to Raffl, Farabee.
Because of this, it would be a major surprise to me to see the team put their trust into Frost this postseason unless there is a serious situation that arises, but as we’ve seen, a serious situation is always around the corner.
While his first professional season has been up and down, Morgan Frost has a bright future with the Philadelphia Flyers organization. He is seen as their top prospect for a reason. If we will get to see any more of that brilliance in Lehigh Valley remains to be seen, but if #48 gets the nod for a couple of games this postseason in Toronto watch to see him make a big impact with the time that he is given.