Connect with us


Out of the Shadows: “Ghost” Saves Flyers from Ghastly Season Start

Shayne Gostisbehere (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Shayne Gostisbehere (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)


After missing the postseason in 2015, the Philadelphia Flyers snuck into the playoffs this past season with 96 points, landing them the second wild card spot behind the Islanders.  Of all eight Eastern Conference playoff contenders, the Flyers had the most OT/SO losses with 14, which is good for the franchise’s second worst since 1999 (the first year teams were awarded a point for an OT loss).  The only season worse was 2014-15, when the Flyers missed the playoffs altogether.

This season, the Flyers were largely inconsistent.  There were times when the squad showed glimpses of pure domination on the power play (which I’ll get to later).  On the other hand, the Flyers had major problems holding onto leads or finishing in overtime to earn the second point.  But we can’t necessarily blame it all on the Mason/Neuvirth goalie tandem, despite going 3-8 combined in shootouts.

After a disappointing 2014-15 season, Craig Berube was relieved of his duties as head coach and was replaced by Dave Hakstol, former University of North Dakota coach.  Hakstol had held that position for eight seasons, reaching the Frozen Four seven times.  There was optimism in the air – that is, until the season started.  The Flyers started off the season 5-8-3 through November 12.  But then, a young man got the call.

Calling up 23-year old defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere on November 14 was perhaps the smartest move for the Flyers this past season.  The young man they call “Ghost” made an immediate impact.  In his first game this season, he recorded his first NHL assist in a 3-2 OT win over the Hurricanes.  Prior to his call-up, the Flyers power play was atrocious, ranked 26th overall, despite such overwhelming presence by Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds.  For his second game of the season, Gostisbehere was added to the team’s top power play unit where he became a mainstay.  Ghost was the spark the Flyers needed.  By the end of the season, the Flyers’ power play ranked a respectable 11th overall at 18.9% (Source: Yahoo Sports).  At the end of the season, Ghost tallied 46 points in 64 games (17 goals, 29 assists) and gave Artemi Panarin a run for his money for the Calder Memorial Trophy.  Throughout the span if his rookie season, Ghost went on a 15-game point streak and recorded four OT goals.

Gostisbehere was drafted by the Flyers 78th overall (3rd round) in the 2012 NHL Draft.  This was before the organization really knew what it was getting.  In 2014, Ghost led the Union Dutchmen to their first ever NCAA title in a 7-4 win over the powerhouse Minnesota Golden Gophers.  He picked up three points and was a +7 that game.  But statistics cannot give due justice to just how outstanding he played, as he laid his body on the line sliding all over the ice to block passes (no pun intended).  Given his performance two years ago at the Frozen Four and his incredible rookie season, it is evident that Shayne Gostisbehere is an exceptional player.  But he also rises to the occasion when big moments call for a hero.  Should Hextall lock him up long term, whether it be next summer or a couple summers from now, I have no doubt Gostisbehere will be pivotal to the success of the franchise for many more seasons to come.

But despite such impressive numbers, I don’t expect the Florida-native to cash in just yet.  Though he becomes a Restricted Free Agent next summer, more likely than not, he will get a nice bridge deal to defer big contract negotiations for a later time to give the organization time to evaluate its youth talent as a whole (in other words, keep Gostisbehere hungry).  General Manager Hextall has a relatively easier offseason this year, having re-inked the majority of free agents (excluding Sam Gagner) and adding key depth players in Dale Weise and Boyd Gordon.  However, next summer he will have to decide which of his 23 free agents should stay or go.  It is the calm before the storm for the Flyers’ front office.

Did I mention both Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth are unrestricted free agents next summer?  No?  As if Hextall’s job wasn’t hard enough, he will have to decide whether or not he will keep either one, both, or seek to make some moves for another starting goaltender next summer.  Next summer, however, there aren’t too many free agent-goalies to write home about.  My best guess is Hextall re-signs Mason, who will be 29-years old next summer.

Back to the here-and-now: Ghost will join Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey in September where he will play alongside the best future talent of the NHL including Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Jonathan Drouin, and fellow-Flyer, Sean Couturier.  For the sake of Flyers’ fans, let’s just hope the fully-rehabilitated Shayne Gostisbehere doesn’t suffer an injury at the World Cup before the season even start.

The following two tabs change content below.
Evan is the Hockey Editor for He provides coverage of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as some league-wide content.

Latest posts by Evan Schleifer (see all)

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Hockey