The start to the Calgary Flames 2023–24 season has been… less than ideal. Or, is it a perfect disguise for the rebuild this team should have taken on years ago? Either way, their current record is not what anyone would have envisioned. There is an obvious need for change in the player department. Like last year, speed looks like a major issue for this Flames team.
This was very evident on the Flames’ recent road trip. Detroit, who was coming off playing in Ottawa the night before, skated circles around the Flames and dusted the visitors 6–2. This team needs to get younger and faster to compete in the current NHL. That is very evident so far in 2023–24.
Morgan Frost in the doghouse
Today, I wanted to look at a situation brewing in Philadelphia that I think the Flames should be watching. Morgan Frost, who is coming off of a stellar 2022–23 campaign with the Flyers, has found himself in a rough patch. Frost was healthy scratched before the Flyers game against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday:
Six consecutive games being healthy scratched is a very rough start to a season. With a head coach like John Torterella, there is always some tough love. With the Flyers’ strong start, infusion of young talent, and Sean Couturier’s long-awaited return, Frost just doesn’t have a spot in the forward group. Currently, the Flyers’ top-nine consists of Owen Tippett, Sean Couturier, and Cam Atkinson on line one, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, and Tyson Foerster on line two, and Joel Farabee, Noah Cates, and Bobby Brink on line three. Given the Flyers’ surprising 4–2–1 start to the season heading into the game against the Ducks yesterday, I can see why Torterella wants to keep things the same. But if things continue, could the Flyers look to move Frost and his two-year, $2.1M AAV contract?
Musings on Morgan Frost
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted the following about Frost in his latest 32 Thoughts:
Morgan Frost is a little different. Philadelphia just re-signed him, have invested a lot of time in him, and he was fourth in team scoring last season. But if he doesn’t play—just two appearances so far—something will have to give.Elliotte Friedman on Morgan Frost’s future in Philadelphia
A deeper look into Frost’s game
It’s really a shame for Frost, who cemented himself as a strong centre option last season. In 2022–23, Frost had 19 goals and 46 points in 81 games. His previous career high? About a third of that with just 16 points in 2021–22. A deeper look at Frost’s player profile from NHL EDGE shows how dominant he was in 2022–23:
The first thing that stands out to you is the speed. Frost is in the 91st percentile in terms of top skating speed, and the 95th percentile in terms of speed bursts over 32 km/h. Frost was also in the 98th percentile for speed bursts between 29 and 32 km/h. This kid is fast. Frost was also in high percentiles for goals and shots on goal, all while being in a lower percentile for offensive zone time.
So, Frost was able to develop a lot of plays and scoring chances with limited opportunities. This is the polar opposite to the Flames in 2022–23 and so far in 2023–24, who have trouble generating offence while having a ton of offensive zone time.
More on Frost below, from analytics outlet Andy & Rono, who detail just how good Frost has been since January 1 of this year:
Why Frost makes sense for the Flames
First off, Frost is still very young at 24 years old. He fits the direction the Flames should be taking in getting younger and faster. Plus, he can play centre and left wing, giving the team some versatility. If the Flames do end up moving Elias Lindholm this season, Frost could help take some of those minutes and alleviate Nazem Kadri and Mikael Backlund. The Flames need to trend toward getting draft picks or young players like Frost in trades. Especially if their 2023–24 season continues to trend downward.
Would a Morgan Frost for Dillon Dube swap make sense? This was proposed @scribeskapin on X and I really like this idea.
Dube has been one of the worst players in the NHL this season analytically, and it’s time for the Flames to move on. I’m not sure if the Flyers would be interested in Dube, given their previously mentioned depth at forward. They would probably prefer a draft pick instead given their current state. I don’t think the Flames should be giving up any draft picks at their current state, so if that is what Philly is looking for, this probably isn’t the right fit. If Philadelphia wants a player-for-player swap, like Dillon Dube, this is something the Flames should be all over.
Frost covers all things the Flames need more of: youth, speed, and skill. His contract at $2.1M for this year and next is very reasonable, and he will be an RFA at expiry. Again, I only like this if the Flames are swapping players, not giving picks up. If that is something Philadelphia is interested in, it would be a savvy move from Craig Conroy and Co.
Photo from @PhiladelphiaFlyers on YouTube