Ghost’s future, Carter Hart’s road woes, and other Flyers issues | On the Fly
Does Shayne Gostisbehere have a future with the Flyers? Will Carter Hart struggle because he won't be playing at home in the playoffs? We answer some readers' questions.
My 2-year old grandson, James, has a new thing: When you tuck him into bed, he says good night and as you are walking out of the room, he innocently says, “I have a question.”
He really doesn’t, of course. It’s just his way of stalling because he wants to stay up a little longer. Smart little guy.
So, in the spirit of my (perfect) grandson -- and with the NHL still on pause -- I’m going to feature some interesting Twitter questions from readers in our latest installment of On the Fly. Thanks for submitting the questions, folks, and stay safe out there.
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— Sam Carchidi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The first Twitter question was submitted @kylewack, who asked: Where does Ghost fit in long term?
Answer: “Ghost”, of course, is defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, and he has struggled the last two seasons and could be on the trading block in the offseason, whenever that occurs.
When the season does resume -- probably in early to mid August -- Gostisbehere will have a difficult time getting into the lineup because the defense has excelled and shown great chemistry without him.
That said, he has displayed eye-opening offensive ability in the past, and he was bothered by a knee injury this season and may regain his explosive speed now that he is healthy.
Bottom line: I think Gostisbehere, 27, will be shopped, but the Flyers will probably hold out for a first- or second-round pick, or a winger with 20-goal potential before they move him.
Question submitted hy @NickLynn85820162: Which of the Black Aces in your mind will be most important during this run?
Answer: The minor-league call-ups figure to include Mark Friedman, Morgan Frost, Misha Vorobyev, Connor Bunnaman, and Alex Lyon. Other candidates: Kurtis Gabriel, Andy Welinski, German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, David Kase, and Chris Stewart.
It would be surprising if any played an important role. The players recalled will be here strictly as an insurance policies in case of injuries.
Question submitted by @NickRueger33: Who will be the top six defensemen when the playoffs begin?
Answer: From here, the same six who helped key the Flyers’ nine-game winning streak shortly before the season was suspended: Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen; Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers; and Justin Braun and Robert Hagg. During those nine games, the Flyers allowed 1.89 goals per game, second-best in the NHL during that span.
Question submitted by @RobertMarcin: Are we screwed in the playoffs since every game is an away game and Carter Hart hasn’t really thrived away from home?
Answer: I understand your concerns, but, remember, these will be away games for both teams, because they will be played at neutral sites. This will be Hart’s baptism to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and he knows this is where players make a name for themselves.
Based on his play as the season progressed, he appears ready for the challenge.
By the way, here were Hart’s home and road splits: He was 20-3-2 with a 1.63 GAA and a staggering .943 save percentage; on the road, he was 4-10-1 with a 3.81 GAA and an .857 save percentage.
Hart’s home record includes a solid 4-3 win over Chicago on Oct. 4, but that was played at a neutral site in Prague. (That game seems like a couple seasons ago.)
Question submitted by @VinceMallett: How is Nolan Patrick? Any progress?
Answer: Patrick, who has missed the season because of a migraine disorder, was making progress and practicing with the team when the season was paused nearly 12 weeks ago. But he wasn’t ready for contact yet, and it seems doubtful the Flyers will risk playing him this season.
Make no mistake, however. He is an integral part of their future.
Question submitted by @SteveLinkJR: As crazy as 2020 has been, doesn’t it make sense the Flyers lift the Cup at the end of this fiasco?
Answer: You’re channeling Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski! He wrote a column about that the other day.
Question submitted by @TommyTomasino: With all the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ new D-men coming, where does (Mark) Friedman play next season and does that mean Justin Braun and maybe Ghost and Samuel Morin are gone next season?
Answer: Braun has been a positive veteran influence, on and off the ice, and I believe the Flyers will try to re-sign him if the price is right. If they can’t come to terms, Gostisbehere will be favored to be the sixth defenseman -- if he’s not dealt -- and Morin and Friedman would battle for the No. 7 spot.
Question submitted by @irish736: Any draft prospects that stand out to you?
Answer: If the playoffs were canceled -- that’s still a possibility, though the league is intent on playing -- the Flyers would have the 26th overall pick in the first round.
Highly regarded players who might be available in the 18-to-31 range: wingers Jack Quinn (OHL), Antonio Stranges (OHL), and Connor Zary (WHL); centers Hendrix Lapierre (QMJHL), Jacob Perreault (OHL), Dylan Holloway (NCAA), Jean-Luc Foudy (OHL), Jan Mysak (OHL), Mavrik Bourque (QMJHL), and Seth Jarvis (WHL); and defensemen Jake Sanderson (NTDP); Jeremie Poirier (QMJHL), William Wallinder (Sweden), Justin Barron (QMJHL), and Braden Schneider (WHL).
Left winger Alexis Lafreniere (QMJHL) is expected to be taken No. 1 overall in the draft, which will be held after the playoffs are finished.
Flyers draft guru Brent Flahr said the Flyers will take the best player available, regardless of position.
Question submitted by @AlexBoiko88: What are the chances the Flyers will trade their first-round pick?
Answer: Slim. Flahr doesn’t think this draft has great depth, but he loves the first round.
Things to know
Answering questions about the Flyers and the season’s resumption.
Flyers sign defenseman Linus Hogberg and try to lure Wyatt Kalynuk.
When season resumes, Flyers will take a strong resume into round-robin tourney.
This is a perfect year for the Flyers to win the Cup, writes Mike Sielski.
Flyers are winners (and losers) in NHL’s unique format, writes Ed Barkowitz.
Flyers’ flashback: Islanders can’t deny Rick MacLeish or Kate Smith. This is part of my countdown of the 10 best playoff wins in the Flyers’ history.
The Flyers bypassed on signing Swedish defenseman David Bernhardt by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline, losing his rights and making him an unrestricted free agent.
Flahr said the Flyers would “continue to monitor” the progress made by the 6-foot-3, 191-pound Bernhardt, 22, who was their seventh-round choice in the 2016 draft.
Even without Bernhardt, the Flyers did extremely well in the 2016 draft. Eight players from that draft, headed by Hart (second round), are with the organization.
June 2: Ten years ago on this date, Claude Giroux scored in overtime to give the Flyers a 4-3 win over Chicago, cutting the series deficit to 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals. The coming-of-age Giroux had three points in the win, and had 21 points, including 10 goals, in 23 playoff games that season.
July 10: This is the earliest that training camps will start.; they are expected to last three weeks.