ANAHEIM – The NHL career of Morgan Frost started with a lot of promise, as the rookie scored in his first two games, but then reality set in.
In the ensuing 16 games, Frost did not score again and managed only four assists.
Before Sunday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, Frost was returned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to make room on the roster for the returning Michael Raffl (broken little finger).
Obviously disappointed, Frost declined to speak with the media before the game at the Honda Center.
Coach Alain Vigneault said Frost showed some promise during his tenure, which started with goals at Florida on Nov. 19 and Carolina two nights later.
“Talking with (general manager) Chuck (Fletcher) about ‘Frosty’ and his play and his development, we just thought for now the best thing for him would be to go to Lehigh Valley,’’ Vigneault said.
“He’ll get a little more ice time. We feel we have a real good prospect there but he needs to play and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to give him the minutes that I want a young guy to have. I felt this was the best thing for him to do.’’
Vigneault was spotted speaking to Frost as the other players were putting on their uniforms and getting ready for the game.
Words of encouragement?
“I see tons of potential,’’ said Vigneault of the 2017 (27th overall) draft pick. “But I’ve also seen tons of potential in other players in the past.
“To be able to maximize that potential, you have to go (to the AHL) with the right attitude, the right work ethic. No doubt there’s a tremendous amount of skill and a tremendous amount of upside.’’
The 20-year-old Frost, who hails from Aurora, Ont., should have a long career in front of him, so there’s no reason to keep him here and playing only 10 minutes a night when he can be getting a lot of ice time in Allentown.
“The whole organization has got to work with him,’’ Vigneault said. “But at the end of the day, really it’s him. Him putting in the time and the effort that needs to be put in to be the best he can be.
“I saw a lot there and I’m confident that in the near future he will be able to help the Flyers.’’
Vigneault could have sent down youngsters like Mikhail Vorobyev or Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
“Those guys are in a different place in their career,’’ Vigneault said “They’re a little older, have different roles. I felt for Morgan I had to play him in the top three lines.
“If I couldn’t do that, he would be better off (in Allentown). With the others, they don’t need the ice time and they can kill penalties. That was the thinking behind that.’’
Raffl was impressed by what he saw of Frost.
“There are going to be some ups and downs but I think he’s an extremely smart player,’’ Raffl said. “He’s helped us win a lot of games. I thought he did a really fine job and deserved a spot here.
“I think he’ll take it the right way. He’s a really good kid and his head is in the right spot which is important. I think he will get better over the years.’’
The Flyers-San Jose game didn’t finish until after 10 p.m. (Pacific time) on Saturday night and the Flyers were right back at it come 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Do a few less hours in between make a difference?
“I think it does,’’ Vigneault said with a smile. “But at the end of the day I’m not going to say it does. I feel like the way we played yesterday (a 6-1 loss), as a team, our focus is going to be on bouncing back.’’
>Raffl ready to go
Vigneault decided to put Raffl at center on a fourth line with Andy Andreoff and Aube-Kubel. The coach checked with Raffl to make sure he had enough strength to take faceoffs.
The coach also kept Sean Couturier with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek. The second line was Kevin Hayes centering James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny.
The loss in San Jose dropped the Flyers to 2-12-3 on holiday week (and beyond) trips over the past four years.
Why the struggles?
“Hockey is hockey wherever you play,’’ Vigneault said “You have to find ways to win. That’s we’re trying to do here.’’
Scott Laughton, who’s been sidelined since Dec. 15 with a groin injury, could be back in the lineup against Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
“Should be able to skate tomorrow,’’ Vigneault said. “Could be ready for the Kings.’’