What more can Morgan Frost do?
It was a question many probably asked for him ahead of his final season at the junior level. Frost toyed with the competition in 2017-18, creating offense that looked unfair at times. The 2017 first-round pick finished with 112 points (42 goals, 70 assists) and a plus-70 rating in 67 regular-season games, as his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds dominated the OHL with a 55-7-6 record and 116 points.
Somehow, though, Frost found a way to get better, to improve the all-around makeup everyone has preached to him since he was drafted 27th overall by the Flyers.
This season, in his final year of junior hockey, everything is elite again from a production perspective. The next-level component is Frost molding the intangibles.
He hasn’t settled, when he easily could have with more eye-popping numbers.
“There’s not a lot for me to say to Morgan at this point,” first-year Sault Ste. Marie head coach John Dean said last Friday in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. “He’s done everything we could possibly ask of him.”
He’s looking and sounding more and more like an NHL-ready player.
The dexterous 19-year-old center put up eight points (four goals, four assists) in five games for Team Canada during the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. With the Greyhounds, he has 78 points (31 goals, 47 points) through 40 games.
But here’s what has impressed Dean most:
Over the course of the year, I think the greatest thing that has been really fun to watch is to see what kind of a leader he keeps growing into. He leads by example, he puts the young guys under his wing and he’s really growing into a 200-foot player.
When you have a player of Morgan Frost’s talent and obviously being a first-round pick, when he welcomes you with open arms, it makes life easy on our young guys.
But he also leads by example on the ice, he manages the puck properly, he makes sure that he knows when he should be making plays and when he shouldn’t be. … He’s smart in his own zone, he works really hard on the way back and he does it at appropriate times in the game.
Obviously everyone knows him as an offensive player, but I think he has really evolved away from the puck. It’s real easy to point to a guy like that to the rest of his teammates when he’s doing the right things with the puck and without the puck.
A specific example of that came Jan. 20 during a game in which Frost scored five goals and “could have scored seven or eight with the opportunities that he got,” according to Dean.
“But we were also down by two and he really, really maintained the composure of the bench, he continued to play the 200-foot game even when we were up by two or three goals,” Dean said. “The example he set away from the puck, it’s starting to get rewarded with the puck.”
Over that weekend, Frost scored seven goals and nine points in two games.
And he didn’t lose focus of playing the right way.
“I think the intangibles that he provided over the course of the weekend were arguably more important than the goals he scored,” Dean said.
So Frost is again scoring at a prolific clip, he has gotten stronger, he plays on Sault Ste. Marie’s first-unit power play and penalty kill, he’s blossomed into a leader and is working both ends of the ice.
He’s making the what-more-can-he-do question unanswerable.
“He’s just too smart to not be put in all situations,” Dean said. “He’s a dependable guy, he knows how to play in those situations, he enjoys the pressure of those situations and, quite honestly, he thrives in those critical minutes of the game.”
Frost will be shooting for the Flyers when 2019 training camp rolls around in the fall. He’s set to turn pro in 2019-20 and you can bet his eyes will be on Philadelphia, not Lehigh Valley.
He has proven enough for that to be his goal.
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