Shayne Gostisbehere, it’s Time to Have a Talk
As weird as it may be to say it, Shayne Gostisbehere has been a Flyer for nine years. Back when the Flyers selected him 78th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, “Ghost”, the nickname Gostisbehere quickly embraced thanks to the fan base, was quite literally the only reason why you were sitting down and tuning into a Flyers game back in 2015-2016. Fresh from signing his entry-level contract after winning a National Championship with the Union in the Frozen Four tournament, Ghost put up 17G-29A-46P in 64 games in his first season as a Flyer.
I still remember his first NHL goal like it was yesterday.
Ghost finished his rookie year as a finalist in the Calder race, joining the likes of Connor McDavid & Artemi Panarin. It was nice seeing a Flyer in the race as Ghost ultimately finished second in voting behind the winner, Artemi Panarin. Ghost finished with 33 1st-place votes, 53 2nd-place votes, 42 3rd-place votes, 12 4th-place votes and 8 fifth-place votes.
Ghost has been on that level again only once after his rookie season, scoring 13G-52A-65P in 78 games in 2017-2018. The problem was never skill with Shayne Gostisbehere, he can make the incredible “Spin-o-Rama” play and blast a puck into twine that’ll have you screaming at your television. He has the skating ability to go coast to coast and make something happen.
Inconsistency issues, usage issues & injuries were some of the factors that led us to where we are now…
What Do You Do With Shayne Gostisbehere?
The Flyers #1 priority this off-season is a defenseman to pair with Provorov. I’m pretty sure all of Philly is in unison with that one. Fans, management, Tony from Passyunk ave, everybody.
Right now, this is the defense we’re dealing with as we head into the off-season.
Ivan Provorov – Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim – Phil Myers
Cam York – Justin Braun
Robert Hagg – Samuel Morin
Not if, but when Chuck Fletcher goes out and trades for a partner for Provorov, obviously the defense shakes up a little.
Ivan Provorov – ??
Travis Sanheim – Phil Myers
Cam York/Shayne Gostisbehere – Justin Braun
Robert Hagg – Samuel Morin
Provorov gets his partner, knocking Gostisbehere off that top-pair and down to the the 3rd pairing. Sanheim is a RFA this off-season, so that’s a situation to keep an eye on, but as of right now I’ll pencil in Sanheim as the second, left-defenseman, behind Provorov. You’re not going back into next season with the same middle pairing as you did last year. Not saying Sanheim and Myers can’t again, in the future, re-unite and become a solid pairing again. I think they can, but as of right now, I just wouldn’t trust going into Game 1 next year with a 2nd pairing of Sanheim – Myers. Sanheim – Gostisbehere sounds awful.
That brings us to our first and honestly, most obvious option.
You Trade Him
Despite not being able to find any suitors last off-season to take Shayne’s $4.5 AAV contract, thanks to an extremely down year (5G-7A-12P in 42 games), Chuck is still looking get something of value for the 28 year old defenseman. Even with having to deal with covid before the first game of the season (causing him to miss six games), being placed on waivers, and dealing with nagging injuries, Gostisbehere still put up 9G-11A-20P in 41 games and finished the season tied 9th overall among defenseman in the league in goals (9).
You have Cam York, who like Ghost, would benefit from a sheltered third-pairing role to start his NHL career. This is assuming York makes the team out of Training Camp which could very well not happen, resulting in York spending the beginning of the season with the Phantoms. That being said, his late-season 3-game try-out with the Flyers, despite the games not meaning anything and the fact that York was playing really well down in the AHL, tells you the Flyers think he’s pretty close to the NHL. I mean, it is Chuck Fletcher’s first pick as GM of the Flyers, if anyone is going to be fast tracked to the NHL, it’s would be York. Not saying the Flyers would rush him but they don’t seem to mind challenging the kid.
York and Gostisbehere are both smaller-sized defenseman (both 5’11), who have a knack for the offensive side of things. Both can quarterback a power play really well, we’ve seen Ghost do it since 2014 and we all know York is very capable as well. Now, you can point to Gostisbehere’s nine goals on the year (tied 7th among defenseman in NHL) and ask “C’mon Chris, how can you expect a rookie to come in replicate that?”
$4.5 million dollars vs $880,833
That’s how, maybe you don’t get the same nine goal production from York but you could arguably get the same, if not more production from different aspects of the game. Ghost has the better one-timer but York in my opinion, can work the blue-line just as, if not better than Gostisbehere. York’s vision, passing and positioning is a work of art, check out this clip from the last game of the season vs NJ.
The flat-cap is something you have to keep in mind. I’m not using it as an excuse to not go out and make big moves, but with the announcement from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in March, that he expects the flat cap to be around for the “immediate future”, you have to make some decisions.
Do you trade Gostisbehere, clear $4.5 million in cap and use that to go fill the back-up goalie position. You could turn around and use that money you just wiped from the books, plug Cam York into that sheltered third-pairing role and use that money to go get middle six scoring forward this group needs.
York isn’t the only young defenseman who could get a look next year. Egor Zamula, an undrafted defenseman from Russia, could get a look. Zamula played in the Round Robin during the Toronto bubble last post season, getting him ready for his first full AHL season with the Phantoms, scoring 0G-6A-6P in 25 games. Zamula didn’t start the season out on the fastest foot but really started to pick up his play in late April, early May. Zamula even made an appearance for the Flyers twice last season.
April 27th vs NJD: 0G-0A +1 logging 19:19 TOI and 3 shots
April 29th vs NJD: 0G-0A logging 14:49 TOI and 2 shots
Not saying if you trade Ghost and clear that $4.5 that it HAS to be Cam York, the Flyers have a couple of young defenseman that could take that #5 spot with a good training camp.
You Keep Him
In this scenario, you don’t want to put too much pressure, too fast on York or Zamula. Or, Chuck simply wouldn’t move Gostisbehere for less then what he wanted too. But still, Chuck did risk losing Ghost for absolutely nothing when he decided to put #53 on waivers in March. Did Chuck know a lot of teams weren’t willing to take on $4.5 million dollar contract in the middle of a 56-game season? Who knows, what I do know is that $4.5 AAV is pretty good value for what Ghost brings to your club. Again, Ghost is at his best when he’s playing in a sheltered role with a defensive-minded defenseman that lets him takes risk and be the player he is. You hope the momentum and confidence you saw Gostisbehere play with last season, carries over into this year. You hope he continues to play well in that role, while York and Zamula continue to develop in AHL until one of them is ready to come back to the NHL and take on the role.
This scenario is risky though, you risk Gostisbehere doing what he’s done for the past couple years, be inconsistent. You finally got his trade value back to somewhat where you wanted it to be only to hold on a little too long and miss out on cashing in. I’ve mentioned that $4.5 million isn’t terrible number to move on the flat cap, but I assume Chuck has more options now then he did during the Trade Deadline. Teams were more set on their rosters, money was tighter, now, teams are in off-season mode, changes are on the horizon and contracts will be moved.
The logjam on defense is something that you have to keep an eye on.
One year remaining on his contract at $1.8 AAV. I wouldn’t mind seeing Braun back on that right side on the 3rd pairing with a younger guy like York or Zamula. I could also see Braun being someone who’s moved, as Chuck might look to bring in another veteran defenseman to play with one of the kids.
Also one year remaining on his contract at $1.6 AAV. Feel like Hagg is just an odd-man out, wouldn’t be shocked to see Hagg moved.
Morin is a UFA and has already made in very apparent he would like to be back with the Flyers.
I would love Morin back, I definitely think this team is missing someone with his size, snarl and willingness to stick up for a teammate. He won’t break the bank and he actively wants to be here. He’s been in the organization since 2013, you haven’t cut ties with him all the way up until now, even with all the injuries he’s been through, why do it now?
Now, this is just pure speculation, but if Chuck decides to really shake things up on the defensive front and decides to send one of Myers/Sanheim in a package for a defenseman. I could see Myers being included as a sweetener in a Seth Jones deal. A young, right handed defenseman, who can still grow, who’s cheap and on the books for the next 2-years at $2.25 and is a RFA at the end of his deal so CBJ has more control in negotiations.
Give me something like this next year and I’m calling for season tickets
Ivan Provorov – Seth Jones
Travis Sanheim – Alex Martinez/Ian Cole
Cam York/Egor Zamula – Justin Braun
Mandatory Credit: Capfriendly.com