Shayne Gostisbehere is the Flyers’ seventh defenseman at the moment and is coming off an injury-plagued season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t become a key player at some point during the team’s playoff run.
“I made a point of going to see him after practice and making sure he knows we are recognizing the work that he is putting in,” assistant coach Mike Yeo, who coaches the defensemen, said after another training-camp session Friday in Voorhees. “Obviously he’s in a difficult situation. It’s been a difficult year for him between the injuries and the success of the team while he was out, making it tough for him to get back in.”
Gostisbehere, 27, a slick skater and a terrific puck mover when healthy, had an unproductive season, which may have been related to knee problems. He had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee about seven weeks ago. On Jan. 14, he had arthroscopic surgery on the other knee.
“He looks really good to me right now. His competitive level is very, very high,” Yeo said. “With that, I think it’s putting his skill in a position for him to have success. He’s a guy that we are looking at very closely.
“First of all, if you want to have any success in the playoffs, you need depth. Whether it’s injuries or it’s adjustments, we’re going to need a number of players to come in and contribute. I have a really good feeling that Ghost is going to be ready. He’s going to be one of those guys.”
At camp, promising rookie Mark Friedman has been Gostisbehere’s partner.
The top three pairings in camp -- Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen, Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers, and Robert Hagg and Justin Braun -- have impressed Yeo.
Provorov and Niskanen “have obviously taken very good care of themselves during the break,” Yeo said. “They’re leading the way right now with the intensity and purpose that they are doing every drill.”
Yeo said that Sanheim has been outstanding in camp, and that Friday was “the best Phil Myers has looked.”
Hagg and Braun “just go out and they compete and work and defend. They look very sharp right now,” Yeo added.
Friedman’s skating ability, hockey sense, and competitiveness caught Yeo’s attention.
“That shows us he’s a guys that could play,” Yeo said of the team’s No. 8 defenseman. “We really like the depth. We really like the way all the guys are working together.”
As camp progresses, Yeo said, more five-on-five drills and five-on-five scrimmages will be added to prepare the players and “develop that chemistry and cohesiveness within the pairings and linemates.”