In the long, frustrating year that was the 2014-15 hockey season, we had plenty of disappointments as Flyers fans.
But in my eyes, one of the biggest disappointments -- at least in terms of my interest in watching bad hockey -- was the season-ending injury suffered by Phantoms defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
The pro debut season of Gostisbehere was something I personally looked forward to for a long while. When comparing the big Flyers prospects on defense, Ghost has always been the most interesting to me. Maybe it's because he's a college player and I love college hockey and am fascinated to see a guy who dominates so heavily at the college level grow into a pro player. Maybe it's because his tools are the most interesting to me in terms of their adaptation to the pros.
Maybe it's because I watched him in the Frozen Four in 2014 and ... well, come on. It was impossible not to watch that performance and get ludicrously, irresponsibly excited.
For whatever the reason may be, Ghost has always been the most interesting of these guys to me, and it was a serious bummer that he got injured so early into his first pro season.
In 2015-16, though, Ghost is ready to go. He reportedly spent the entire 2014-15 season sitting in the press box watching NHL hockey, studying the game and learning with the help of player development coach Kjell Samuelsson, himself a former NHLer. And in the weight room, Gostisbehere has bulked up -- to the point where former Phantoms coach Terry Murray thinks the year off will actually help him more than it hurts him.
It's in that context that we rank Gostisbehere with the No. 6 spot in our Top 25 Under 25. He's down two spots from the No. 4 ranking he saw last summer, but that's not bad considering the year off.
There's nothing much to say about Ghost's game that we haven't said already. He had an insane collegiate career at Union College, and his 34 points during that junior season in which he led Union to the national title was an extremely impressive year. The question remains, after just five AHL games played last year, how that will translate to the pro ranks.
He's got the tools. He's a great skater, his shot is an absolute cannon, and he definitely has puck skills. The biggest question has always been his size, but after spending a year focusing on bulking up, it should be an interesting training camp for Ghost.
We imagine he's still going to need AHL time -- maybe a full season, even -- before he is NHL ready, if he ever is able to take his skills and grow into an NHL player. But despite the year off, is it possible to be more excited for a rookie AHL campaign than the one we're about to watch Shayne Gostisbehere embark on?
How we voted for Shayne Gostisbehere:
Who we voted for at No. 6:
|Shayne Gostisbehere||Shayne Gostisbehere||Scott Laughton||Shayne Gostisbehere||Travis Konecny||Samuel Morin||Scott Laughton||Travis Konecny||Travis Sanheim||Danick Martel||Samuel Morin||Samuel Morin|