Tomorrow, the Philadelphia Flyers begin the 2023 NHL Preseason on the road against the New Jersey Devils. That means the final batch of scrimmages will serve as the last chance to earn optimum minutes in the eyes of the front office and coaching staff.
“As a management group, we have a vision of where we feel the twenty-five, twenty-eight players are as far as an NHL roster that’s going to keep on fighting along in the later exhibition games. I think it’s important that you do reward people. Quite honestly, some people may lose opportunities based on how they go about their business in scrimmage games and early exhibitions.”John Tortorella; 9/24/2023
Sam Ersson and Bobby Brink were a couple of players on the cusp of the Flyers roster who had a potent last day of scrimmaging. Garnet Hathaway continued to play hard, making it tough to keep him out of a fourth-line role. Morgan Frost battled and improved as the scrimmage continued, working beautifully with Cam Atkinson and Joel Farabee.
Frost could break through into the top-six of the Flyers lineup. He competed in 81 games last season, finishing with 40 points (16G, 24A) in a 54-game span. At the beginning of the month, Frost signed a 2yr/$4.2mil extension. His progression must continue, however. He hasn’t yet established himself, but Frost is trending in the right direction.
“He [Frost] still has quite a bit of work to do to solidify himself. That’s Frosty’s world. I think he’s handled himself well. Where he was, in my opinion, earlier in the year to where he came to towards the end of the year, he progressed. That’s all I want to see; keep moving the needle in the right direction.”John Tortorella; 9/24/2023
In addition to the efforts affecting ice time and camp battles, Travis Konecny was absent. John Tortorella said Konecny was ‘banged up,’ but doesn’t believe it is serious. Don’t expect Konecny to be in the lineup as the Flyers visit the Devils on Monday at 7pm. On a related note about the trip to New Jersey, Ian Laperriere will coach.
Tortorella said he wasn’t going to discuss the lineups for the Flyers at Devils, wishing to speak with his players first.
Creating a standard was the mission since Tortorella arrived in Philadelphia. An agent of change, discussed by management, will only help the Flyers become a destination franchise in the NHL. The roster will be young, but the players will earn ice time based on merit.
Noah Cates earned Frank J. Selke Trophy votes, changing from an LW to a C in 2022-2023. Next, Cates looks to evolve his play with the puck. He competed in every game a year ago, finishing with 11 points (3G, 8A) in a 14-game span. Cates effectively produced with and without the puck, considering the responsibility he accepted from Tortorella.
“What if he [Cates] starts producing offensively, and let’s say Cootsy [Couturier] comes back and does the things we all know he can do. Then you have Frosty [Frost], who is supposed to be an offensive center. Does Catesy displace him in an offensive role? I want to see it play out. If we can get Noah Cates to gain confidence offensively, he may pass a few other guys. It puts me in a good situation; I can play him and Coots against two top lines of the opposing team’s and feel pretty comfortable, both offensively and defensively. This is the battle Morgan Frost is going to have.”John Tortorella; 9/24/2023
Sanheim did switch to RD, beginning the experiment. Tortorella noted the impression he received:
“He [Sanheim] looks like he’s in really good shape; he’s gotten stronger, he’s put on some weight. I’m hoping he’s trying to make a statement, because that’s what it looks like to me on the ice, at least the first few days here. He’s trying to make a statement, like saying, ‘I’m coming at you, and I’m going to show you.’ I hope he continues to have that attitude.”John Tortorella; 9/24/2023
The players will dictate the pace of the rebuild. They’re trying to piece together a winning culture as quickly as possible. The standard enforced by the new Flyers management is no-nonsense. If veteran players take those reigns, showing the way for the youth, it’ll speed up the rebuild. The culture is swiftly changing from a season ago.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)