Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere’s time could be up in Philly

Shayne Gostisbehere #53 of the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Shayne Gostisbehere #53 of the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Regardless of how the postseason goes, it’s likely Shayne Gostisbehere won’t return next season for the Philadelphia Flyers.

As the Philadelphia Flyers ramp up their preparation for the 2019-20 playoffs, one can’t help but wonder, is Shayne Gostisbehere’s time up in Philly?

Back in 2015-16, “Ghost” burst onto the scene as a rookie, accumulating 46 points in 64 games with a whopping 17 goals. Gostisbehere was electrifying. Every time he touched the puck, I found myself up on my feet with my eyes pressed to the TV screen.

He was fantastic on the Flyers power play that season as he was able to notch 8 of his 17 goals with the man advantage. Gostisbehere would go on to finish fifth on the team in scoring as a rookie behind players like Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, and Brayden Schenn.

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2016-17 would end up being a down year from the high standard Gostisbehere set during his rookie season, as he would go on to finish with 39 points while only tallying seven goals throughout the year.

I feel it should also be mentioned that while his production took a dip, the entire Flyers roster, in general, had declined points-wise. He still managed to finish fifth on the team behind the same players from last season.

The very next season became the season everyone knows Gostisbehere for. It was the year he scored 65 points. Try to talk about him to any Flyers fan today and you can’t have a conversation without someone bringing up his 65 point season.

Gostisbehere was outstanding offensively in 2017-18, there’s absolutely no denying that, as he would go on to finish the season with 13 goals and 52 assists while finishing tied for eighth in the NHL in power-play assists with 26.

He was as dynamic as you could get for an offensive defenseman and was a player you watched games for, whether it was for his bomb of a shot on the power-play or for his fast-paced play pushing style, he seemed to always be involved.

After a 65 point breakout season Flyer fans thought we had the next Erik Karlsson on our hands as Gostisbehere had set the bar extremely high for himself.

In his age 25 season Gostisbehere saw massive regression, not just in offensive production but in defensive play as well. It could be that while he was putting up huge offensive numbers that we as fans ignored his defensive flaws, but once the points stopped piling up the defensive miscues became glaring.

That season he would finish with 9 goals but just 28 total assists, only two more than his previous season’s power-play total. It came out after the season he was fighting a nagging knee injury but from what I could see it just seemed opposition teams adjusted to his style of aggressive offensive play.

At this point, Gostisbehere had been in the league for four full seasons at this point and was as inconsistent as one could be, alternating great seasons in 2015-16 and 2017-18 with poor seasons in 2016-17 and 2018-19 and even though 2018-19 was a bad year it would seem the worst was yet to come for Shayne as 2019-20 proved even worse.

The Flyers brought in Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault to replace former Head Coach Dave Hakstol and former General Manager Ron Hextall and while Hextall may have rebuilt the Flyers from the bottom up during his tenure, he completely neglected the pro rosters.

Since Fletcher and Vigneault have been around they have made all the necessary moves to help propel this team to success. There’s just one player who hasn’t seemed to find his way under Vigneault.

Yes, you guessed it, it’s Shayne Gostisbehere. When play stopped this season, Gostisbehere skated to the tune of just 5 goals and 7 assists in just 42 games played and was either benched or sent to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at different stretches of the season.

Recent reports have also surfaced that he may have been fighting more nagging knee issues which are never a good thing for a defenseman who should be entering his prime years.

That would not be the first knee surgery for Ghost as he’s also had his left knee operated on back in January and once more back in 2015. Seeing a theme here? At 27 years old Gostisbehere will have just finished his worst season as a pro and is now coming off his third knee surgery.

He was outpaced in points this season by two “stay at home” defenseman in Robert Hagg and Justin Braun who scored 13 and 19 respectively and rookie Phil Myers who finished with 16. Ghost has quickly fallen to third-pairing duties under Alain Vigneault and will have to work his way up if he wants more ice time under the first-year Flyers head coach.

With the talent in front of Gostisbehere, that’s going to be extremely difficult as I believe players like Matt Niskanen and the aforementioned Justin Braun are vital to this team’s success and players like Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Phil Myers will only continue to grow and get better. So that leaves Ghost as the 6th defenseman, right?

Wrong. Although Robert Hagg is nothing spectacular to watch, at the very bare minimum he does his job. He plays tough and makes minimal mistakes, something Gostisbehere has become accustomed to doing. So he is now pushed out of the 6th defensive spot and finds himself as a $4,500,000 7th defenseman on a Flyers team that has quite a few young players to get under contract between this offseason and next.

It’s also worth pointing out how GM Chuck Fletcher just handed out a brand new contract to defenseman Mark Friedman who came up to fill in for Gostisbehere at parts of this season and played well enough to earn a two-year deal. So is he now the 8th defenseman on this team? That’s an awful lot of money to have tied up in a player who really doesn’t have a spot on a roster.

Add in now that the Flyers have brought along Yegor Zamula to the playoff hub and it has to make you wonder if they’re looking into fast-tracking one of their potential phenom defensive prospects to the NHL next season. So again, there is no room for an often injured former offensive defenseman who has become a liability defensively.

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Ghost has been pushed so far down the totem pole that it’s my belief that the only option left is for Chuck Fletcher to move him during the offseason. The Flyers are going to need that CAP space if they’re looking to resign Justin Braun amongst others like RFA’s Phil Myers, Robert Hagg, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Only time will tell but if you’re asking me, I’d say Shayne Gostisbehere’s time in Philadelphia is unofficially over.