November 23, 2021
Morgan Frost is like any of us. He sees the news. He follows the Philadelphia Flyers on the regular despite his busy schedule with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
So when headlines surrounding the likes of Ryan Ellis missing extended time and Kevin Hayes being out on a “week-to-week” basis begin to circulate, Frost sees them.
“It adds motivation,” Frost admitted over the phone. “It's obviously kind of tough to block that type of stuff out. I see it, but you don't want to overthink about that.”
Except, unlike us — whose livelihoods aren't affected with the news out of the Flyers building — Frost’s career is impacted when injuries begin striking the big club and scoring woes start to pile up. After being among the final cuts in training camp, the Ontario native is ready for whenever that call-up comes.
He wants to be that guy, and he's doing everything he can to be exactly that.
“Just do your thing down here and keep getting better everyday and find consistency so that it looks good if something does happen up there,” Frost explained. “You want to be the guy that gets that call.”
So what exactly is Frost doing with the Phantoms to boost his resume for whenever Chuck Fletcher and the coaching staff decide to pull from the minor league system?
Only leading the team in scoring with 15 points (3 G, 12 A). He's also firing off just a tick above two shots per game for a total of 34 shots, good for second on the team, and has a powerplay goal to his credit through the first 16 games.
“The coaching staff has done a really good job with us,” Frost went on to say. “I've put in a lot of hard work over the summer. I didn't get off to the start I really wanted to but I think now some of that is starting to pay off for me.”
Frost was candid about that slow start over the phone, as well as his recovery.
Being just 21-years old at the time of his dislocated left shoulder surgery last season, Frost didn't realize the journey he'd be embarking on in his comeback. After all, he said he had never been through an injury that kept him out that long. A series of “small bruises and bumps” had been the extent of his injury history, hardly ever missing more than one game with any one injury before.
“The mental side of it was way tougher than the physical side of [the recovery],” Frost noted, “... a lot of tough days doing rehab and not being able to skate or being around the guys. I came out of it stronger mentally.”
With any injury comes the uncertainty of how quickly a player can return to their former self. The biggest obstacle oftentimes is the mental hurdle of regaining the confidence in your body.
For Frost, feeling confident in his shoulder wasn't an easy thing. “When I started skating it didn't feel amazing when I'd bring my stick above my head for a slap shot or a one-timer,” he recalled.
That has since gone by the wayside. Frost has his mojo back and doesn't feel any second guessing when making split decisions, such as heading along the boards for puck battles.
He feels he started to regain form around the time of training camp.
“After not playing for a full year, it's taken a little bit of time for me to get my legs back under me and to get my timing again,” Frost went on. “You can do a bunch of stuff and train in the summer but nothing truly prepares you like a game.”
Ask anyone around the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. and they’ll tell you how good of a camp Frost had this fall. He hung around with the big club up until the very end when he was a part of a 10-person cutdown.
Afterwards, Fletcher admitted that the coaching staff really liked what they saw from the former first-round pick, but it was ultimately his decision to get him to play some more games in Lehigh Valley to start the season rather than being an extra forward with the Flyers or a bottom six-player getting minimal minutes.
“I think the best thing for him long term is to play and play in an environment where he can get his confidence,” Fletcher stated at the time. “It's the best thing for him. It's the best thing for us… It's not a rush to get him playing here. He's going to play here, but let's make sure we give him a chance to be successful.”
Frost became a popular choice among projected opening night lineups due to the Hayes injury, so seeing him starting the season with the Phantoms came as a surprise to many fans.
It also came as a letdown to the man himself.
“To be completely honest, I think the first week I came down here I was thinking about it too much. I let it affect me and let it affect the first 2-4 games,” Frost shared in reference to his aforementioned slow start this season. “I was getting really frustrated with myself and not giving myself any patience. I was obviously a little disappointed in what happened, but I'm on the other side of that now.”
Frost said that after experiencing everything he went through in September and October and being so close to earning a spot, that “it's been all positive” once he finally settled in with the AHL club. Following his sluggish stretch to begin the season, which saw him tally just two assists through six games, Frost has exploded for 13 points (3 G, 10 A) in his last 10 games.
“I have a lot of confidence,” Frost reiterated. “I'm just trying to play my game and not think about outside stuff too much.”
That outside noise Frost speaks about is the anticipated call that may be coming his way any day from the Flyers. The buzz is only getting louder with each highlight of Frost’s that gets shared across Twitter and the continued injury bug that has hampered the Flyers’ start to the year.
Morgan Frost doin' the bull dance, feeling the flow. Workin' it. Workin' it. pic.twitter.com/pHBMPZAeqU— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) November 20, 2021
MORGAN FROST TIES THIS BABY UP! HIS 2ND OF THE YEAR!— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) November 20, 2021
What a PP from the Phantoms! 2-2! pic.twitter.com/2hEnfe8UmR
Morgan Frost was all over it setting up Max Willman on ANOTHER shorthanded goal. The Phantoms have FIVE shorties, most in the AHL. pic.twitter.com/dzeTIDIcNO— LehighValleyPhantoms (@LVPhantoms) November 16, 2021
The question now, though, is whether or not Frost is ready to play at the next level and make an impact. He’s had a cup of coffee at the professional level — 22 games over multiple stints to be exact — but he wants to make sure that when the next call-up comes, it’s a permanent move.
With Lehigh Valley, Frost said the coaching staff is focusing on the “little details” in his game. That includes making the smart play such as knowing when to dump the puck in or when it’s time to protect it. Being an offensive-minded player, he’s becoming more aware about not trying to be too fancy with the puck. All of these are things he says are “all a part of the next level.”
This also entails more time on the special teams, including penalty kill. Frost let out a little laugh when asked about how much prior experience he had when playing a man down. That’s because at the junior level, which was the last time he played on the penalty kill, his time on the unit mainly consisted of him “cheating too much for offense.”
He sees improvement in his game there through the early going with the Phantoms and believes all of this can help him in being a 200-foot player, something that head coach Alain Vigneault is looking for in his skaters. “It's definitely new territory at pro,” Frost continued. “It's been a really good learning process for me.”
In order to not just make the next jump but to solidify a spot with the Flyers when he does get back, he knows he’ll have to carve out a role with the special teams units, which is why he’s grateful now for the opportunity to work on the craft.
He’s well aware that his growth there will go a long way in developing himself as a long-term NHL player.
“They want me to be a 200-foot player so it's been really nice to have an opportunity to play the penalty kill here and just sharpening every part of my game so that when I get the call up, I'm ready,” Frost explained.
“If I can turn myself into that Swiss Army knife where I can play on the powerplay and the penalty kill it opens up more ice time.”
It’s not a question of “if” but rather “when” Frost will be back in the orange and black.
By the way he’s playing, Frost is certainly making his case to be the next call-up when the time arises. Add that to the situation the Flyers see themselves in, which includes their second-line center in Hayes missing multiple weeks potentially, and the need for a spark offensively, the drum beat for Frost is growing louder and louder.
Looking at the schedule, if a call-up was to happen with Hayes’ latest setback, it may very well happen ahead of their Black Friday game against Carolina or over the weekend before visiting the Devils on Sunday. If this upcoming back-to-back with Tampa Bay and Florida doesn’t go well and the scoring issues continue, a Frost call-up could be the way to ignite a fuse into the lineup.
“A huge part of it for me [playing in the NHL] is winning 1-on-1 battles, and I think when I'm doing that I'm creating more offense. I think I'll always be looked at more as an offensive player but I'd like to produce up there if I get the call and that'll definitely help [to stick in the lineup],” Frost pointed out. “More importantly it's getting the coaches to trust me to put me out there in different situations.”
Whether that promotion comes then or later on in the season, Frost just wants to make sure he takes that developing 200-foot game of his and proves that he belongs.
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