Second to Carter Hart, Morgan Frost might receive the most criticism in the under-25 crop. In Philadelphia, criticism is born out of expectations based on past performances.
Frost has strung together sturdy performances at the NHL level, but not consistently. His rookie season on the Philadelphia Flyers was encouraging, securing 7pts (2G, 5A) in 20 games. He mimicked that pace with 16pts (5G, 11A) in 55 games last season. Finding consistency in his game correlates directly to his confidence level.
Unfortunately, the Flyers as a whole weren’t consistent anywhere that counts. Undeniably, confidence wasn’t high throughout the lineup. Decimated by injury, the lines, pairs, and even goaltenders included AHL prospects. Mike Yeo tried to complete a puzzle missing half the pieces. ‘The Kids Line,’ including Frost, served opportunistic to find a place in the NHL lineup.
Usually, Frost thrived with Claude Giroux. Once the former captain left for South Beach, Frost found his way with a group as hungry as him. Playing with Noah Cates and Owen Tippett allowed him to play a little more freely:
“We’re all a little younger and trying to make a mark in the league. I think that adds hunger and I really like playing with them.”Morgan Frost; 4/24/2022
In the offseason, Frost signed a 1yr/$800k extension; a prove-it deal.
“Biggest season of my life, for sure. I think I got my feet wet a little bit in the league. Now, I want to come in and be a difference maker and really help the team win, not just be on the team. A huge year; I think I’m prepared well for it and hopefully can make some stuff happen.”Morgan Frost; 9/27/2022
He has to find his confidence in 2022-2023. There is plenty to like about Frost, especially the consistency he’s shown during the preseason. Frost notched two assists in as many games, including one on the powerplay against the Boston Bruins. In addition to his playmaking ability, he’s generally careful with the puck. In both sample sizes from the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 seasons, Frost forces more takeaways than times he gives the puck away.
John Tortorella doesn’t know his players yet, and he’s admitted as much on multiple occasions. Each preseason game, he is evaluating his talent. Last night, against the Buffalo Sabres, he didn’t approve of the effort. Travis Konecny, responsible for the lone goal scored by Philadelphia, reflected the head coach’s thoughts when asked about getting back into a proper lineup:
“It was definitely nice to make some plays, touch the puck a little bit in a real game. It’s good, but it also makes you realize how much work we’ve got left to do. A lot of things to clean up, starting with me. There’s a lot of things I can work on. We haven’t really got too much into systems and stuff yet, so I’m sure it’ll get cleaned up here as we get going.”Travis Konecny; 9/27/2022
Everything is a work in progress, but the Flyers are growing together. It’s the best way to settle Frost into a new system. Konecny lit up with excitement when asked about playing on a line with Frost against the Sabres:
“I think it’s important for Frosty to get his confidence there, and just keep pumping him; telling him the good things and the bad things he can work on to stay in a good position in the lineup. He’s such an effective player. He can be so good when he’s on, it’s hard to stop Frosty.”Travis Konecny; 9/27/2022
Konecny is just the latest to comment on his skillset. He could be in a position to work into the top six of the lineup for Philadelphia on opening night.
Certainly, that is a prove-it situation.
“This is probably the best opportunity since I’ve been here for young players to step up and either earn a bigger role on the NHL team or even to make the team. We have a big wave of young talent coming into our system this year. Some will play [in] Lehigh, some will play here. It’s an exciting opportunity for a lot of younger players.”Chuck Fletcher; 9/22/2022
Listed week-to-week, Sean Couturier will be absent from the lineup on opening night. Kevin Hayes will bump to the 1C role, leaving space for Frost to potentially take on the 2C responsibility. It will serve as the best chance he’s had at the NHL level to find his swagger. Like an old Flyers mantra, it might be ‘now or never,’ for Frost.
Fletcher placed Frost in the lineup with James van Riemsdyk and Konecny for good reason. He wants to see how he will perform with the wingers on the second line in Philadelphia. An early assist on an even-strength goal to tie the game versus the Sabres is a good answer to the test. Consecutively, Frost shows his flexibility on special teams and during five-on-five hockey. He is positively impacting his stock directly to the face of Fletcher in a tough camp run by Tortorella.
“A lot of it’s just a mindset thing, I think. To some extent, like last year, some of my opportunity was from other guys being injured and the situation the team was in. The way I play my game, I can’t be out there second guessing myself at all. I got to play with a lot of confidence and a little bit of swagger. I think the end of the year last year and then how I trained over the summer, I feel a new sense of confidence.”Morgan Frost; 9/27/2022
Frost put in the work ahead of camp and will continue to get better as the regular season approaches with Tortorella pushing him. A clean slate after a worst-case-scenario season is what Frost needs to play freely and truly ascend.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)