The Philadelphia Flyers continue to come up in discussions surrounding potential trades entering the NHL offseason. General manager Chuck Fletcher is rumored to be in the market for just about every available big-name player. And reports indicate that his top target is likely Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones.
Recent potential trade packages have proposed the inclusion of winger Joel Farabee in a deal to Columbus, but moving the 21-year-old winger for Jones doesn’t seem beneficial or at all likely from the Flyers’ standpoint. The Blue Jackets will still pursue another young forward if they deal Jones, and center Morgan Frost is the likelier piece to be included by the Flyers.
Morgan Frost: Rising Centerman
Frost, a 22-year-old center from Aurora, Ontario, was drafted 27th overall by the Flyers in 2017. The pick was acquired in a draft night trade with the St. Louis Blues. The Flyers also received center Jori Lehtera and the 2018 pick used to select Farabee for forward Brayden Schenn.
He starred in his NHL debut in November 2019, netting his first career goal on a highlight-reel backhander. A short-handed goal in his second game earned him extensive praise for his skilled hands and offensive touch. Frost also showed tremendous agility and competent physical play, a difficult feat for a young forward prospect to accomplish immediately. His surge into the NHL cooled off, and he finished the 2019-20 season with two goals and five assists in 20 games with the Flyers before being optioned to the AHL.
The demotion made sense for the organization. Frost was not in a position to play a top-six role down the stretch for a team that was in contention to win the Metropolitan Division. The outlook on his development remained optimistic, and he succeeded as a consistent point producer in 41 AHL games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
The true roadblock to Frost’s development in the NHL came in February 2021. He was inserted into the Flyers’ lineup after an early-season injury to center Sean Couturier, which seemed like a chance for Frost to prove his worth at the NHL level. He suffered a dislocated shoulder in just his second game that kept him out for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
Flyers Aggressive in the Trade Market
The Athletic published a piece Thursday that listed Frost, defenseman Philippe Myers, prospect Zayde Wisdom, and a future first-round draft pick in a potential trade package for Jones (The Athletic, Trade packages for Seth Jones: What the Blackhawks, Avs, Kings and Flyers could offer the Blue Jackets?, 7/2/21). Although the entirety of the package still seems somewhat lofty from the perspective of the Blue Jackets, Frost is the logical centerpiece of a potential deal for Jones or any other major trade that Fletcher is considering.
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Frost showed true promise in his brief stint in 2019-20, and there is reason to be optimistic about his future at the NHL level. However, the Flyers will be looking to improve their roster collectively with sights on the immediate future in 2021-22. The necessary maneuvering for a team clearly looking to execute a blockbuster trade will require them to part with solid talent. Dealing Frost in greater efforts to help solidify the defense is the best option because of the opportunity it creates to keep their established forward unit intact as much as possible.
Philadelphia’s top two lines will be centered by Couturier and Kevin Hayes next season. Forward Scott Laughton signed a five-year extension in March, an indicator of the organization’s satisfaction with him as a bottom-six center moving forward. Captain Claude Giroux will likely spend the majority of his time on the wing. The depth chart at center also includes Frost and 22-year-old Nolan Patrick.
While Patrick’s potential as a former second overall pick might attract some suitors, his overall inability to breakout at the NHL level weakens his trade value drastically. It is highly unlikely he’ll be the centerpiece of any major trade this offseason. As a cheap option at center, who has received strong endorsements from an organization with salary cap concerns, he might retain his role as a third-line center in 2021-22 regardless of whether or not he will make as significant of an impact on the ice as Frost.
The Flyers are also expected to expose wingers James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek, who finished tied for the team lead in points last season along with Giroux, to the Seattle Kraken in the NHL Expansion Draft. Losing additional point production from Farabee, their leading goal scorer in 2020-21, or 24-year-old winger Travis Konecny in a trade, would create a gaping hole at the top of Philadelphia’s lineup. In efforts to keep his most valuable pieces intact and field the most complete team, Fletcher needs to be open to dealing his top prospects. He’ll recognize that it’s Frost who will bring the best return.