By trading center Nolan Patrick last week, the Flyers have shown their faith in Morgan Frost becoming a full-time NHL player.
Frost, the Flyers’ No. 3 prospect in The Inquirer’s rankings, was given a chance when he replaced the injured Sean Couturier in the third game last season. He played two games before dislocating his left shoulder after absorbing a hit from Buffalo’s Jake McCabe. Frost required surgery and missed the rest of the season.
Now 22, the 5-foot-11, 186-pound Frost has lots of potential. He was a first-round selection (27th overall) in 2017, and had a sensational junior career. He was an AHL All-Star with the Phantoms in 2019-20, and had seven points in 20 games with the Flyers in that same season.
“It’s going well. The shoulder feels pretty good, and it’s close to 100%,” Frost said in a phone interview Monday from suburban Toronto. “I just have to stay on top of it.”
Frost has been working out regularly at a gym, skating twice a week, and even golfing. He plans to skate three to four times a week in August.
“I think a lot of it now is just getting my strength back in the shoulder, which I’m doing in the gym,” said Frost, who had 112- and 109-point seasons, respectively, in his final two years in the Ontario Hockey League.
Frost, a pass-first player, is able to shoot the puck without pain.
“I can shoot slap shots with no problem. I think I still have to get more mobility for a full one-timer,” he said. “That’s probably the only kind of shot that doesn’t feel 100%.”
“But I don’t take too many one-timers, anyway,” he said.
Frost, who says his shoulder should be 100% during training camp and doesn’t anticipate problems absorbing contact, was asked if the Patrick deal was a vote of confidence that management feels he can take his spot.
“I don’t really want to comment on that,” he said. “I mean, I think they have confidence in me, and I have confidence in myself. I still think I definitely have to go into camp and earn it and prove that I can make the team again and play a full season. We’ll see what happens, but I’m excited for the opportunity.”
When training camp arrives in September, Frost will be in the mix for the third-line center spot that was held primarily by Patrick, who had just four goals in 52 games and was minus-30. Patrick missed the previous year because of a migraine disorder.
The Flyers have other options. They could explore a center in a trade or in free agency, and they could shift left wingers Claude Giroux or Scott Laughton into the middle. Both, however, seem better suited as wingers.
Couturier and Kevin Hayes will be the top two centers.
Taking Wednesday’s Seattle expansion draft out of the equation, there are wingers and centers who could interest the Flyers in free agency, which starts July 28. That group includes centers Phillip Danault (five goals in 53 games with Montreal), and Alexander Wennberg (17 goals in 56 games with Florida); wingers Brandon Saad (15 goals in 44 games with Colorado), Mike Hoffman (17 goals in 52 games with St. Louis), and Jaden Schwartz (eight goals in 40 games with St. Louis); and centers/wingers Mikael Granlund (13 goals in 51 games with Nashville), Erik Haula (nine goals in 51 games with Nashville), and Tomas Nosek (eight goals in 38 games with Vegas).
Darryl Williams, who has a long history with Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault, was named one of his assistants Monday.
He replaces Ian Laperriere, who left the Flyers to become the head coach of their top farm team, the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Williams has spent 10 years as an NHL assistant, including nine under Vigneault -- five with Vancouver and four with the New York Rangers. Since 2019, he has been an assistant with the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers.
“There is a high level of familiarity, having worked with Darryl for several years,” Vigneault said, “and I know what he is capable of to help bring success to our group.”
Williams, 53, played most of his career as a minor league left winger and amassed more than 200 penalty minutes seven times. He played two games with the Los Angeles in 1992-93 -- Wayne Gretzky was on that team -- and compiled a total of 10 penalty minutes.