Frost hopeful he’s finally earned coach’s trust

Morgan Frost
      VOORHEES, N.J. – It was a season of the highest highs and the lowest lows for Morgan Frost.
      Fortunately for the Flyers center, the season ended in a rather upbeat fashion.

      In the first half of the team’s schedule, Frost was benched on three separate occasions totaling 10 games. Clearly, he fell into coach John Tortorella’s disfavor from time to time.

      The last healthy scratch came on Jan. 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. After that, Frost played the final 43 consecutive games.

      While his overall offensive production was down this year (13 goals/41 points vs. 19 goals/46 points the year before), his two-way game improved greatly over the 2022-23 campaign. Last season his plus-minus number was minus-12. This year it improved to plus-4.

      There were games when he was centering one of the lower lines and others when he played with top-end talent such as Owen Tippett or Travis Konecny. His ice time increased as the season progressed. He had several games over 20 minutes and a few more in the 19-range.

      The question now is: Can Frost be considered an everyday top-six forward or will this uncertainty continue?

      “You’re never going to play good for all 82 games but I think there were a couple stretches where it felt like I wasn’t doing too much out there,” he said on Friday at the Flyers Training Center. “It (consistency) is obviously something I want to focus on and work on. It’s something I’ll be thinking about going into the offseason.”

      Frost, who turns 25 next month, already has 229 NHL games under his belt. He’s signed through next season at $2.375 million per year, so next season figures to be a pivotal one. The Flyers could offer him something like a two-year extension or, if he gets off to an impressive start, maybe consider additional years.

      Like some of the other young Flyers, Frost’s level of play seemed to slip a bit down the stretch and was evident in that infamous eight-game (0-6-2) winless streak. But at least he wasn’t scratched.

      “I think in general, toward the end there, when the pressure started to build, I think maybe a little mental fatigue kicked in,” he said. “There were some guys who were grinding through whatever they were doing.”

      To some it appeared the coach and the player worked out their differences. That wasn’t the case back in October when Frost did a lot of watching from the press box.

      “I think I’ve learned a lot in how to handle things with him,” the Aurora, Ontario, Canada native said. “Obviously you want to play every game. I think there were times when I wasn’t playing to the standard I should have been that he (Tortorella) was going to hold me to and that I hold myself to.

      “I understand it’s part of it. I’m trying to be more consistent so it (reduced role) doesn’t happen.”

      Frost said he’s been concentrating on shooting more and tipping pucks at the net when the opportunities present themselves.

      “Shoot harder and protect the puck a little bit better below the other team’s goal line,” he added.

      >Sanheim steps up

      After a strong start to the season, a large amount of ice time seemed to catch up to defenseman Travis Sanheim down the stretch. Both he and top-pairing partner Cam York were worn down by the number of minutes they played, partly because so many of the other Flyers’ defensemen were in and out of the lineup due to injury.

      When the ice chips settled, Sanheim finished the season with nearly 24 minutes of ice time per game. That’s a load for even a 27-year-old in his prime.

      “Yeah, obviously playing a lot and a little banged-up as well,” said Sanheim, who won his second Barry Ashbee Trophy for best Flyers defenseman. “Battling through some injuries.

      “Obviously there was a lot at stake. ‘Yorkie’ and I wanted that. We wanted to be carrying the load.”

      In one game at Los Angeles on Nov. 4, Sanheim played a staggering 29 minutes, 14 seconds (and the game was completed in regulation time).

      “We wanted to be a big part of it,” Sanheim said. “For the most part I thought Yorkie and I played pretty well. We were obviously disappointed with the outcome but I’m happy about how me and him played down the stretch.”

      Sanheim admitted the grind eventually took him out of his powerful skating style. He had to be a little more economical with his energy.

      “Maybe not quite as mobile,” he said. “Not skating the way I would have liked. As things got going I got more comfortable. I understood how to be more effective and I thought my skating started to come back toward the end.”

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.