Following the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ elimination from the Calder Cup playoffs at the hands of eventual Cup-winning Toronto Marlies, Maddie and I put out our closing thoughts in a sort of relaxed, naturally flowing conversation kind of way. It seemed to go over well (and we enjoyed putting it together!) so we’re back again, this time with thoughts on the Flyers’ prospects that participated in the 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase!
Plus, with the showcase being such a small sample size, a laid-back approach just feels appropriate. We decided to split this series up into three posts, based on nationalities. As you’ve likely figured out by now, up first are the future Flyers that are from Canada!
Age: 19 (5/14/1999)
Weight: 180 lbs
Drafted: 1st round draft pick in 2017, 27th overall
Statistics: 3 games played, 0 goals, 1 assist, 8 penalty minutes
Brad: I think it’s pretty fair to say he was underwhelming, but hey, it’s August and it was three games. Not trying to make excuses for him, but, well, yeah no that’s exactly what I’m doing, I am making excuses for him.
Maddie: It’s OK. I also think it’s kind of funny that our bar for underwhelming was “still flashed a ton of skill, but like, just didn’t score any goals.”
B: He’s a first rounder, the bar is high!
M: Yeah, rightfully so! And especially after the monster season he had in the OHL last year.
But let’s talk about All Of That Skill. Because, to a certain degree, it felt like he was doing a ton of work to set up what were almost very nice chances, but we just didn’t get the finish. Like this one:
Nice move from Morgan Frost (PHI) but he can’t get the shot off. pic.twitter.com/KOO9LBfLjw— Ty Smith’s Burner Account (@DraftLook) August 4, 2018
B: That’s fair, I do recall seeing that scenario go down a few times. There was a one timer on the power play that stood out to me from during their game against Sweden, but Eriksson Ek stoned him. He was on the verge of racking up the points, but just wasn’t able to.
M: Absolutely. It’s not like he was just sort of skating circles out there for a minute and then heading back to the bench. He was right on the doorstep.
B: And, again, in his defense, he’s done a lot over the summer. First, his season didn’t even end until May 13th thanks to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds’ run at the OHL Championship, then he joined the Phantoms for their playoff run (although he didn’t get into any of the games), after that it was time for the Flyers’ Trial on the Isle to start on June 27th, followed by dev camp just over a month ago, and now the Summer Showcase. All that plus the fact that he bulked up over the summer like the Flyers had asked him to is, well, a lot.
M: He’s been a busy guy, that’s for sure. So I totally get what you’re saying, let’s not get too riled up over him not quite meeting our expectations in a summer tournament, in the middle of a summer where he’s been running around like crazy. The boy may just be a little tired. Let him live.
But, to pivot a little bit, I want to talk about roles. We got to see him playing in some different contexts, in this tournament, and that’s neat. He played on the penalty kill! And that’s kind of spicy!
B: That is spicy! Did he kill penalties with the Greyhounds? I honestly have no recollection but I think maybe a little bit? At times?
M: Jason (hello!) tells me he got some time on the PK with Soo, but hey, it’s still the first time we’ve gotten to see him in this context. And he did pretty well too! And I’m really excited about him getting this experience, even if it’s only a little bit. Like our pal Travis Konecny, Frost doesn’t really figure as the type of player who NHL coaches give a ton of time on the PK, but who they probably should. Because, you know, you want to have a guy who can not only disrupt opponents’ chances, but maybe even turn that around and do something with a shorthanded chance created. Revolutionary, I know. Skill guys are Actually Good.
B: For sure, and he doesn’t need to be that type of player either. Just nice to see him given the chance to play there.
Speaking of different roles we got to see him play in, let’s talk about how they had him play left wing in the final game of the tournament. Whenever the Greyhounds wanted to unite Barrett Hayton and Frost on the same line, Hayton was the player that got moved to wing. Team Canada had a different idea in mind though.
M: Yeah, that was super exciting to see, for me. Because, if nothing else, it gives him a little bit of extra flexibility. The Flyers have a ton of center prospects, and while Frost is probably one of the better of those, it does open up some possibilities. Say, if the Flyers were to decide that he’s absolutely ready to be playing at the NHL level, but maybe not physically ready to play center at the NHL level, they could ease him into it by putting him at wing for a bit. And maybe we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, here. It’s just to say that flexibility is never a bad thing, and he’s opening up his options.
B: Yeah, the Flyers have a ton of natural centers, and with Couturier and Patrick here for the long haul, some of them will have to play wing.
M: And, in closing, despite a quieter showing, I still think he’s basically a lock for the World Juniors team. Thank you.
B: Absolutely. The only way he doesn’t make the team is if he makes the Flyers.
Age: 19 (2/15/1999)
Weight: 196 lbs
Position: Left wing
Drafted: 2nd round draft pick in 2017, 35th overall
Statistics: 3 games played, 1 goal, 0 assists, 0 penalty minutes
Maddie: This always feels like the lazy approach, but my first impression of Ratcliffe, no matter how many times I watch him play, is what everyone always harps on, is just “Isaac Ratcliffe is a big boy”.
Brad: He is very tall, that’s a fact.
M: But, that said, I almost wouldn’t know it? A big impression he made at development camp was that he had not just gotten stronger, but was more willing to actually play to his size. He wasn’t playing small anymore. And I think we got some of that in this tournament, but not as much as I would have liked. I can think of one sequence, I forget which game it was in, where he was set up in front of the net, and just kind of got pushed out by a guy much smaller than him. Which wasn’t great.
B: I feel the same way, in fact he didn’t leave much of an impression on me at all if we’re being honest. Maybe that’s my own expectations being set too high, combined with the fact that the other prospects did so well, and you know, had his goal been televised I probably wouldn’t feel this way. As foolish as that feels to say.
M: I definitely don’t think that’s wrong. Like, the high expectations and constraints of the viewing situation don’t help, but on the whole, I think Canada had a number of impressive performers, but, comparatively, Ratcliffe was much quieter.
B: I wish we had more opportunities to actually see him play, rather than the, what, two games? But, yeah, he was overshadowed by players like Suzuki and Formenton but it wasn’t as if he was unimpactful.
M: Absolutely. And something I keep coming back to is this idea that maybe quiet isn’t the worst thing, in Ratcliffe’s case. When he was first drafted, and when we first saw him, he was pretty rough, and we knew he was going to be a project. But now, just a year later, he’s playing with and against some of the top players in his age group and he’s keeping pace. He doesn’t look out of his depth, not at all, and I don’t know if we would have been able to say the same thing, if he had been in this setting a year ago.
B: Very true. I think one of the more interesting things to come out of the showcase was that he, like Frost, played on the penalty kill here and there! And, in a surprising twist, I don’t think he got much power play time. At least not in the games we got to watch.
M: I don’t think so, either. But he was solid on the PK, as well, and that’s what I think we want to see. I hate to keep harping on this, but coaches love players with that long reach on the penalty kill, and he’s got that. We can reasonably expect him to be something of a mainstay in this area, in the future, so it’s nice to see him doing well in it, already.
B: That reminds me of a thought that Jake (hi Jake!) had put in BSH slack the other day; the possibility of a penalty killing unit of Ratcliffe, Couturier, Myers, and Morin down the road. That’s one tall unit.
M: That’s hot.
All bio information and tournament statistics courtesy of HockeyCanada