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A look at Morgan Frost’s 2017-2018 season so far

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We might just have something in this Morgan Frost character

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NHL: NHL Draft David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

With 22 points in 18 games, Morgan Frost is currently 14th in the Ontario Hockey League in points this season. What may be even more encouraging to Philadelphia Flyers fans is the fact 20 of those 22 points are primary. As a recent late first round draft pick who is still in the OHL, Frost should be racking up points. However, a lot goes into the on-ice success of any player, especially for a prospect playing in a league where the skill among any team can vastly differ. Are they being propped up by often playing with a high-end prospect? Are they just tapping pucks in for goals or watching teammates skate two-thirds of the ice to score for an assist? Are they capitalizing on power-play time and not doing much at even strength? To answer these questions, I took a look at all of Frost’s primary points this season, as well as where he has been taking his shots in all situations.

COMPARISON TO LAST YEAR
When it comes to prospects, it's reasonable to expect an uptick in point production for a player who is still playing junior hockey after recently being drafted. For Frost, some people expected a bigger point increase for the Philadelphia pick than others. Ryan Biech, who currently writes for The Athletic and Canucks Army, had this to say about Frost on an episode of The Hockey PDOcast just before the 2017 NHL Entry Draft:

“Nothing can replace seeing these players live. Like I look at a player like Morgan Frost with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He played a depth, middle-six role for the Greyhounds because they had Senyshyn and Katchouk, and he’s somebody who did very well in that role. Next year, when these players graduate, then he’s going to be the next step up and he could be a very good bet in the 2nd or 3rd round for a team because he’s going to take that step up. Then people will be like ‘Oh, where did he come from?’ where he wasn’t a point per game player (this year)”

Sounds like a pretty promising comment coming from a reliable source when it comes to grading draft-eligible players. When you consider that the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds' two leading point producers from 2016-2017 in Bobby MacIntyre (now with the Jacksonville IceMen in the ECHL) and Zachary Senyshyn (15th overall pick in 2015 now with the Providence Bruins) are no longer on the team, there should be, to an extent, more offensive opportunities for the team's third-best and fourth-best point producers from last season in Boris Katchouk (second-round pick for Tampa Bay in 2016) and Frost. Although Frost and the Greyhounds have only played 18 games this season, let's take a look at his numbers this season compared to his 2016-2017 numbers:

Frost's 2016-2017 season: 67 games, 20 goals (13 five-on-five), 25 primary assists (22 five-on-five), 62 points (42 five-on-five), 142 shots (104 five-on-five), 0.30 goals-per-game (0.19 five-on-five), 0.93 points-per-game (0.63 five-on-five)

Frost's 2017-2018 season: 18 games, 7 goals (3 five-on-five), 13 primary assists (7 five-on-five), 22 points (11 five-on-five), 57 shots (33 five-on-five), 0.39 goals-per-game (0.17 five-on-five), 1.22 points-per-game (0.61 five-on-five)

Frost looks to be on pace to post better numbers than he did last year, as his overall goals-per-game and points-per-game averages have increased a considerable amount due to special teams' play (he's generated a few shots shorthanded).

GOALS

Black=Even Strength, Red=Power Play, Yellow=Shorthanded, Filled In=Penalty Shot

It's early in the season, but it is good to see that six of his seven goals have been put home inside the home-plate area. Frost also seems to be scoring in all kinds of situations, as he has three goals on the rush, three goals while the Greyhounds were cycling, and one on a penalty shot. He also has three even-strength goals (two of which came with Katchouk and Cole MacKay, one with Katchouk and Ryan Roth) , three power-play goals (one with Katchouk and MacKay, one with Katchouk and Tim Gettinger, and one with Katchouk and Barrett Hayton), and his first shorthanded goal over his three seasons in the OHL (that penalty shot). Two of Frost's goals have come from collecting rebounds and one of his goals was a one-timer, where he teed off on a MacKay pass in a 6-3 loss to the Sarnia Sting on October 27th.

One positive we can take from Frost's goals so far this season is they really illustrate his speed. After Corey Pronman of The Athletic talked about his misleading speed as a skater, Frost demonstrated it against the Kitchener Rangers in a 3-2 win on October 13th, as he skated two-thirds of the ice past a few flat-footed opponents before converting on a breakaway opportunity. He also used that speed to earn his shorthanded penalty shot against the London Knights on September 24th.

SHOTS

Black=Even Strength, Red=Power Play, Yellow=Shorthanded, Filled In=Goal

Looking at his shots so far in 2017-2018, it's obvious Frost either drives to the net or takes his attempts above the left circle. Fifteen of his 57 shots have come either in the crease or below the circles near the crease, while 16 of his shots came from the left faceoff dot to the top of the left circle. He has four games so far this season with five shots on goal or more, including an 11-shot game in that loss to the Sarnia Sting on October 27th.

ASSISTS
When is comes to assisting his teammates, Frost has looked great this season. Of his 13 primary assists this season (10 coming at even strength), Frost has seven assists on the rush and six coming mid-cycle. Of those seven assists on the rush, his assist on the power play against the Flint Firebirds on October 28th and his second assist in his three-assist outing against the Sudbury Wolves on November 1st were plays that were created by Frost leading 2-on-3 rushes.

The Orange and Black's prospect has also shown plenty of creativity show far this season when it comes to setting up teammates. He has completed a slap pass to Gettinger on the power play against the Oshawa Generals, a give-and-go shorthanded with Keeghan Howdeshell against the Kingston Frontenacs, and was the second part of a tic-tac-toe goal scored by Rasmus Sandin against the Wolves on November 1st that saw a pair of cross-ice passes.

On top of creativity, Frost has also shown his understanding that a good chunk of goals come once you get the goalie moving. Of his 13 primary assists so far this season, 11 of Frost's assists were completed passes, while a pair of his assists were teammates putting in a rebound he created. Of those 11 passes that resulted in assists, three were cross-ice passes and three were from below the goal line. Two of Frost's assists from below the goal line came from behind the net, as he backhanded a pass to Roth in the slot against the Saginaw Spirit on October 11th and hit Holden Wale at the point on October 20th against the Frontenacs.

Although he has played most of the season with Katchouk, Frost has done plenty of the legwork on his primary points. He’s getting to the dirty areas for a good portion of his shots and completing passes that are proven successful measures in the NHL. If he keeps scoring at this pace all season, Frost will break the 80-point plateau, a mark only 15 OHL players hit in 2016-2017. Regardless of whether or not he hits that number, the Flyers’ prospect is showing a lot of promise just months after being drafted by the Orange and Black.