Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
When Dave Hakstol spoke about Shayne Gostisbehere after the conclusion of last night’s game, he certainly gave hints that both him and Ron Hextall knew there was still work to be done before they’d want him playing in Philadelphia. He also hinted that there could be more cuts before the next game on Monday evening. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the Flyers have returned Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg and Nick Cousins to Lehigh Valley.
Cutting Hagg and Cousins was expected the entire way. Both of those guys still have a good chance at being NHL players down the road, but there just wasn’t room on the roster for it to happen this year. So let’s talk about the cut that everyone will be talking about: Shayne Gostisbehere.
Even as he impressed through his 3 preseason games, Ghost remained a huge underdog to make the Flyers out of camp. Despite that fact, the decision to send Ghost to the AHL is almost certain to be met with some outrage and disagreement. It shouldn’t be. There are several reasons why this move makes sense, and several reasons why it doesn’t really matter. Let’s take a look at them.
- First and foremost, Ghost still has plenty to work on in his game. His defensive zone play without the puck needs some fine tuning. Even his play with the puck in the defensive zone needs to be readjusted to game speed after a full year off. Working on these shortcomings in the AHL will benefit Ghost.
- Gostisbehere is coming off a year during which he played seven (7) games of professional hockey because of a torn ACL. Hextall clearly wants to see more than a handful of preseason games before he decides that Ghost is ready for the NHL.
- The defensive logjam did not work in his favor. The Flyers already have eight defensemen signed on one way deals, and they’d have to trade someone or put another player on waivers to make room for Ghost to stay.
- Ghost is going to be back in the NHL this season. It’s possible that it won’t be long from now. Whether it be via injuries or trades, room will be created, and Ghost will be recalled when Hextall deems that he is ready to go. Playing half of a season in the AHL is not going to hold Gostisbehere back in the slightest. Playing half of the season without Gostisbehere will not significantly affect the Flyers. For both parties involved, it doesn’t matter.
Ron Hextall has clearly demonstrated his commitment to a long term approach. Ghost made this decision a little bit tougher, but the reality of the situation is that he probably never had much of a chance. And that’s fine. Drink a few cold beers, watch some Phantoms games, wait a couple months, and you see Ghostisbehere back up here again soon.