Morgan Frost could sense a demotion was coming.
He hadn’t scored a goal in 16 straight games, could feel his confidence waning, and realized his playing time had been decreasing.
So when general manager Chuck Fletcher told him the Flyers were sending him back to the AHL’s Phantoms on Dec. 29 in Anaheim, it wasn’t exactly a shock.
“I wasn’t caught too off-guard by it. I don’t think I was playing my best hockey at the time,” Frost said the other day. “My ice time had started to deteriorate a little bit from when I first got called up, and I wasn’t doing some of the things I was doing really well in my first couple games. I knew that, and I wasn’t creating as much offense and doing my thing. I think some of it was a confidence thing, too.”
Frost, 20, scored goals in each of his first two games with the Flyers, then went goalless in 16 straight contests. He had seven points in 18 games.
To his credit, Frost has regrouped and gotten his game back in order with Lehigh Valley.
“I came back down here and I’m playing 20-some minutes [a night]. I’m on the first power play,” he said. “I’m starting to get my confidence back.”
On Monday in Ontario, Calif., [10 p.m., NHL Network], Frost will play in his first AHL All-Star Challenge, a three-on-three, round-robin tournament. He will be the Phantoms’ lone representative at Toyota Arena.
“I was a little surprised at first, to be honest,” Frost said of his All-Star selection. “I hadn’t played a ton of games down there. I had played 50-50 between Philly and Lehigh, so I was definitely surprised and it’s a nice feeling and a nice honor.”
Frost had played just 16 games with the Phantoms when selected. He has now played in 28 AHL games this season and has collected eight goals and 19 points.
“It’s a really tough league down here and the style of play is a little bit different than the NHL,” he said. “It’s still pro hockey, but there are little things that are different. The NHL might be a little more structured and the pace of the game is a little quicker. There are a lot of little things that are different and hard to explain; it’s almost like a feel thing that you notice when you’re on the ice.”
Frost said he was “working hard to get a call back up” to the Flyers.
Brent Flahr, a Flyers assistant general manager, is happy with Frost’s development.
“He’s playing with more confidence,” Flahr said, adding that Frost “looked a little tentative and wasn’t himself” during a lot of games with the Flyers. “He has a terrific skill set, and he’s playing his game [now], and I’m sure at some point he’ll get another shot back up here.”
“I see tons of potential in him,” said Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, who had Frost centering Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny in his first 10 games before moving him down in the lineup.
During his stint with the Flyers, Frost and Joel Farabee played on the same line in one game, giving a glimpse of the future. They created a two-on-one against the Rangers on Dec. 23, but goalie Henrik Lundqvist denied Frost’s one-timer.
“I thought I had an empty net but he made a nice save,” Frost said.
Frost and Farabee were drafted in the first round in 2017 and 2018, respectively. They were taken with picks acquired in the deal that sent Brayden Schenn to St. Louis and they have become close friends.
“We’re kind of going through this whole situation together, young guys [trying to make their mark],” Frost said. “We like to play with each other. Whether it’s practice or after practice, we like to do little things together. We’re always passing the puck and we have some warm-up rituals that we do, and he does everything well as a hockey player. He’s a special player, for sure.”
Farabee (5 goals, 15 points in 40 games ) has stuck with the Flyers and had an outstanding game Tuesday in a 3-0 win over the Penguins. Frost hopes to be back with him some day.
Frost said Fletcher told him he needs to play with more consistency and pace. “I have to focus on the little details and playing a more pro-style game instead of some habits created from junior,” said Frost, who had consecutive 100-point-plus seasons seasons in the Ontario Hockey League before joining the Phantoms.
Frost dominated the more wide-open junior game. Now he’s making the adjustments needed to become an impact player someday in the NHL.