Flyers not interested in pursuing Union's Gostisbehere 'at this time'
The Philadelphia Daily News is reporting that a source close to the Philadelphia Flyers has said the team has no interest "at this time" of trying to sign Union sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere to a contract.
Gostisbehere, who the Flyers selected in the third round of last June's NHL draft, had a good season for the Dutchmen, collecting eight goals and 18 assists in 36 games. He was named to the All-ECAC Hockey second team. Gostisbehere also helped Team USA win the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in January.
But seeing "at this time" in quotes should set off some alarms. Right now, the Flyers defense has suffered numerous injuries this season. Chris Pronger's career is, in effect, over because of concussion problems. Kimmo Timonen, the Flyers' top defenseman, is 38 years old.
Would the Flyers make a run at signing Gostisbehere after their season ends? Perhaps. But the big question is whether or not Gostisbehere is ready to make the jump to the pros. He is 19 years old, and is 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds. The Flyers may believe he needs to add some muscle, and he may be better off spending another year at Union.
There are still aspects of Gostisbehere needs to work on. The one area I think is most important is to be a bit more careful with the puck. There are times when he overhandles the puck and turns it over. This is not a criticism, just an observation. There is no doubt that Gostisbehere has a lot of talent, and the Flyers fans can't wait until he arrives in Philadelphia. Union fans are hoping that he will be in Philadelphia next April for the Frozen Four.
Can the Flyers be trusted in not trying to sign Gostisbehere? As much as I love the Flyers, I am concerned because the injuries and the age. And the Flyers angered the Union coaching staff last summer when they signed Dutchmen recruit Andrew Johnston, who was expected to be one of Union's top forwards. He had had 29 goals and 52 assists for the Humboldt Broncos, helping them with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League title. Johnston helped the Broncos to a 4-0 record in the preliminary round of the Royal Bank Cup Canadian Junior "A" Tournament, scoring three game-winning goals. Johnston finished the tournament with five goals and four assists.
I get the feeling that if Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren ran into Union coach Rick Bennett, there could be an interesting exchange, and it would not be cordial.
My best guess is that the Flyers will tell Gostisbehere to spend another season at Union. But I have been known to be wrong some times.