Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds center Morgan Frost has never been one of the biggest players on the ice, nor was he a marquee name entering the Ontario Hockey League.
He was the 81st overall pick of the 2015 OHL Priority Draft coming out of midget hockey. Rapidly, however, he's shown himself to be a fleet-footed and offensively gifted player with the ability to make his linemates better. "I think I'm a playmaker," Frost said.
"I think I'm a high-skill player who has the hockey sense to create plays."
After choosing the highly touted Nolan Patrick with the second overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, the Flyers subsequently announced a major trade. The team sent Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for the 27th overall pick of the 2017 Draft, a conditional 2018 first-round pick, as well as veteran two-way NHL forward Jori Lehtera.
Video: Blues trade 27th pick to Flyers for Brayden Schenn
Frost had spoken with the Flyers a few times in the months leading up to the Draft. While he was hopeful that Philadelphia would select him with the 27th pick when news broke of the big trade with St. Louis, he had no way of knowing at the time whether he or someone else was the player the Flyers were targeting.
Like every NHL organization, the Flyers approach the Draft solely by their own internal rankings of players. The rankings produced by NHL Central Scouting, other agencies and a variety of professional pundits do not factor into the equation.
In Frost's case, the external rankings were all over the map. One publication operated by a former Montreal Canadiens scout ranked Frost 21st overall as a sleeper first-round projection. Another rated him the second fastest skater in the Draft and its 41st overall ranked prospect. Bob McKenzie and TSN placed Frost just outside the first-round projection range at 38th overall. Central Scouting had him 31st among North American skaters while another scouting service had him 71st overall.
Video: Hear from GM Ron Hextall on trade
Hextall and assistant general manager Chris Pryor could not care less. The Flyers scouts, both those based within Ontario who viewed him the most frequently and the crossover scouts with home bases in other regions, unanimously believed Frost was a worthy first-round pick with the upside to be an effective NHL offensive player.
"There are very few guys where our whole staff likes the guy, and our whole staff liked this guy. He's an extremely intelligent player and reads the ice well. Good two-way player who showed up good in the testing," Hextall said.
During the skills testing portion of the CHL Top Prospects showcase this past season, Frost showed off his speed by winning the 30-meter fastest skater competitions both with and without the puck. More important, in OHL game action throughout the season, the second-year Barrie native impressed his coaches to gain their trust.
Playing on a loaded Greyhounds team that included the likes of Zachary Senyshyn (Boston's 2015 first-round pick), Boris Katchouk (Tampa's 2016 second-round pick), Tim Gettinger (Rangers prospect drafted in 2016) and Jack Kopacka (Anaheim's 2016 fourth-round pick), Frost earned his way into a top-six role in the lineup at even strength. He also played both ends of special teams.
Frost showed himself to be an effective setup man, especially on the power play, and racked up 42 assists in 67 games. Although not an especially hard shooter, Frost used an accurate and fast release to bag 20 goals. Overall, Frost ranked fourth on the Greyhounds in scoring.
At 5-foot-11 and 172 pounds, Frost doesn't overpower anyone on the ice. His finesse and elusiveness are his bread and butter. Nevertheless, he will need to add significant strength before he is likely to be deemed ready for the pro game. There will also be adjustments on the defensive side of the puck as he eventually competes among grown men.
As he moves up the hockey ladder, Frost may be converted to a winger but has the tools to do so effectively.
Frost is the son of Andy Frost, who served as the Toronto Maple Leafs in-arena public address announcer. When Morgan wasn't playing hockey, he was often around the press box at the Air Canada Centre. The younger Frost is an articulate speaker in his own right. Nevertheless, he is regarded as a young man who listens first and asks intelligent questions. His coachability is one of the traits that quickly endeared him to the Greyhounds.
While he became acquainted with Flyers scouts this past season and he follows the NHL in general, Frost admitted that he has things to learn about the team and its home city.
"I don't know a lot about the city or in-depth about the organization, but it's just great to be drafted by them," Frost said.
Given his reputation as a fast learner as well as a fast skater, Frost should have no problems acclimating to his new NHL organization as he continues to develop his game and work toward challenging for a Flyers roster spot within the next few years.