Flyers recall Morgan Frost in wake of Derick Brassard injury and shutout loss to Lightning
The Flyers are currently down three centers with Kevin Hayes, Patrick Brown and Brassard all injured.
SUNRISE, Fla. — With injuries mounting at center, the Flyers turned to the AHL Phantoms for offensive help by calling up Morgan Frost.
Frost got the news Tuesday night while he was out to dinner with his Lehigh Valley teammates. Phantoms coach Ian Laperrière called him and told him, “Drive down to Philly. You’re on a flight tomorrow. You’re going to play in Florida tomorrow.” A lot of thoughts ran through Frost’s head, but his excitement overrode everything. His parents reminded him not to overthink it and to just play his game.
Frost finished his dinner, packed, and put on a podcast for the drive to Philadelphia, he said. After a good night’s sleep, he arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Wednesday. Max Willman, a Phantoms teammate who was recalled last week, said Frost was clearly excited, just as Willman was “fired up” for him.
Willman and Frost are the only forwards the Flyers have recalled from the Phantoms this season. The Flyers have primarily used the waiver wire, claiming Patrick Brown and Zack MacEwen, as a means to fill injury holes in their lineup — namely during the extended absences of Kevin Hayes.
Early in Tuesday’s 4-0 loss at Tampa Bay, Flyers center Derick Brassard left the ice with a lower-body injury. Brassard was already playing on the second line to help fill in for Hayes. Without him, the Flyers had to constantly shuffle their lines. Coach Alain Vigneault said he had no further update on Brassard’s injury other than that he wouldn’t be available Wednesday. He will be re-evaluated once they return to Philadelphia. The Flyers are also missing center Hayes (abdominal) and center/winger Brown (thumb).
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The Flyers recalled Frost, 22, to help them Wednesday in their second game of a back-to-back in Florida, against the Florida Panthers. Earlier this season, the Panthers beat the Flyers 4-2 at the Wells Fargo Center, and they are 10-0-0 at home.
Frost, the Flyers’ first-round pick in 2017, last played with the Flyers during training camp. It was the first time he had played hockey in a year because of shoulder surgery, and he struggled. Team management decided it would be best for his development to start with the Phantoms, where he would get more ice time, and Frost said it has helped him.
“I think just, in general, just kind of getting my confidence back and figuring out things I can and can’t do [because] I didn’t play for so long, there was definitely a little rust there,” Frost said.
His increased confidence was clear to Willman, who had been his penalty-kill partner as well as a linemate at Lehigh Valley. Frost said his biggest areas of improvement were decision-making and his 200-foot game.
Prior to his call-up, Frost led the Phantoms with 15 points and 12 assists through 16 games. Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said Tuesday they weren’t in a hurry to call him up. That was hours before Brassard was injured, and the Flyers were left with three centers: Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, and Nate Thompson.
Before Wednesday’s game, Vigneault said he was still figuring out the lines and where Frost would slot in. However, he said Frost will “definitely” play on the power play.
Frost has played in 22 NHL games (two goals, five assists). He made his NHL debut against the Panthers on Nov. 19, 2019 — and scored in a 5-2 loss.
”It’s cool,” Frost said. “It’s kind of crazy how things work out. This almost feels like it’s my first game again. Yeah, this is a special place for me. I had my family there that night. Yeah, I’m excited to be back here and hopefully score another one.”
Power play vs. penalty kill
The Flyers’ power play and penalty kill have completely flip-flopped as the season has gone on. During the preseason, the penalty kill played poorly in the exhibition games while the power play looked promising.
In the last 14 games, the power play has scored just four times. Its season average (15.1%) is seventh-worst in the league, and over the past 13 games, it ranks second-to-last (9.5%).
The penalty kill has been just as likely to create offense as the power play, which is not great given it’s a man-down situation. Heading into the Lightning game, the Flyers had the 11th-best penalty kill in the NHL with a kill rate of 83.3%.
Against the Lightning, the Flyers killed two power plays. On the first, they gave up zero shots and generated two shorthanded shots.
Willman was called up Nov. 18 ahead of the first contest against the Lightning following Hayes’ reinjury. The Lightning-Panthers swing is his first NHL road trip. “He’s got a lot of energy,” Frost said. “He’s always smiling. He’s just a great guy to be around. The team’s lucky to have him here.”