In a way, it may be the passing of the torch Friday in Washington as the Flyers’ Cam York replaces Shayne Gostisbehere as a power-play quarterback and takes a regular shift on defense.
York, 20, selected in the first round (14th overall) of the 2019 draft, will be making his NHL debut.
Gostisbehere was suspended for two games by the NHL for a late hit on Pittsburgh’s Mark Friedman on Tuesday, and he will not play Friday or Saturday in D.C. There is a chance the Flyers don’t protect him in Seattle’s expansion draft on July 21 and he is taken by the Kraken.
“I completely disagree with it,” Gostisbehere said of the suspension, which will cost him more than $77,000. “I think they completely missed the mark.”
The player they call “Ghost” is fully recovered from the two knee surgeries that slowed him down last season. He has nine goals, 20 points and a minus-5 rating in 40 games.
“Shayne has had some good moments this year; he’s also had some other moments that have been a little more challenging, a little like our team,” coach Alain Vigneault said after Thursday’s practice in Voorhees. “Consistency has been an issue. The league decided to suspend him for the two Washington games, so we’ll probably have him back for the last one” Monday against visiting New Jersey.
Gostisbehere, 28, is expected to play in the season finale. It might be the last game of his career with the Flyers; he is the fourth-highest-scoring defenseman (60 goals) in franchise history.
It’s been a bizarre year for Gostisbehere, who contracted the coronavirus before the season.
“Starting with COVID, getting waived, (being) a healthy scratch, and now suspended. It’s definitely been a tough one, for sure,” he said. “But I think personally through all that, I’ve played pretty well throughout the season. It’s had ups and downs, but I think for myself...you get knocked down, you just get back up.”
York, who captained the U.S. to the World Junior gold medal in January, will be paired with Samuel Morin on Friday.
Even though the highly touted York could eventually replace him, Gostisbehere is looking forward to watching the defenseman make his debut.
“When I got my opportunity it was because someone was injured,” Gostisbehere said. “He’s going to get his opportunity and I’m excited for him. He’s a playmaker. He kind of plays the game similar to my style. I like to see that, especially when it’s in your own organization. I’m really excited for him to make some moves and help our team win.”
Vigneault is eager to also see York, a Southern California native who starred at the University of Michigan. He had five points (two goals, three assists) in six games with the Phantoms.
“You want players to be put in situations where they can have success,” Vigneault said, when asked about York getting time when the Flyers have an extra skater, “and he’s considered a very good power-play person. He’s done it on the college level, he’s done it for a small sample size at the American League level, and we’ll see what he can do at this level.”