Former Union Men’s Hockey star defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has certainly been making his mark at the professional level.
Not even a week after the Dutchmen were crowned 2014 NCAA National Champions, Gostisbehere signed an entry-level deal with the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL.
When the Flyers chose Shayne 78th overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft, they knew they had drafted a highly talented prospect with an enormous amount of potential.
The Flyers director of scouting Chris Pryor had nothing but great things to say about Gostisbehere in an interview last spring with NHL.com, after signing the young 21-year-old defenseman from Margate, Fla.
“He’s exciting to watch. He’s got offensive flair to his game that you just don’t teach. Some kids have it and some kids play a different style game. He has that knack for finding holes, jumping up with the play and seeing things from an offensive standpoint, which is a unique ability from his standpoint.”
The Flyers are currently in the middle of training camp with the 2014-15 season quickly approaching.
Gostisbehere has been nothing but impressive thus far, notching his first goal of the preseason against the New Jersey Devils in a 4-0 win last Thursday, September 25.
Gostisbehere’s goal came on the power play, helping the Flyers begin the preseason on an incredible 7-for-12 clip at home on the power play.
In the sequence where the goal occurred, Flyers’ first-round pick Scott Laughton moved the puck to fellow forward Jason Akeson who whipped a pass cross-ice to Gostisbehere. Gostisbehere then cranked a high-rising slap shot past Devils’ starting goaltender Corey Schneider.
“My only thought was to make sure that it wouldn’t be blocked,” stated Gostisbehere in an interview with Philly.com last week.
Gostisbehere’s tally was something Union fans had gotten used to seeing over the past couple seasons in Schenectady, especially throughout the Dutchmen’s historic National Championship run last season.
Gostisbehere’s strong play didn’t end after his first goal last Thursday night, though.
Things looked good for him as the Flyers traveled to New York earlier this week to take on their division rivals, the New York Rangers.
Despite a 6-3 loss to their opponents on Broadway, Gostisbehere notched another goal and an assist to go with it.
This time, Gostisbehere ripped a slap shot from the point off of the face-off and launched the puck top-shelf against one of the NHL’s top goaltenders and former Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist.
Many critics, however, seem to think Shayne’s only flaw in the NHL will be his size.
He’s listed at just 5’ 11” and 160 pounds, which is relatively small compared to the average size of an NHL defender.
As the game only gets more physical and faster in the NHL, you can see why this would be a concern for some people.
“I feel like my defensive game has been good. I’ve been picking up sticks and I’ve just got to focus on outsmarting people. Of course, they’re going to be bigger than me, but stepping in front of them, they’re not going to get the puck,” stated Gostisbehere in an interview on Philly.com, responding to remarks about his defensive play and his size.
Despite Gostisbehere’s solid play thus far this preseason, there unfortunately isn’t much room to be had on the Flyers’ NHL roster this season.
The Flyers already have seven healthy, bonafide NHL defensemen who have a lot of NHL experience already under their belts.
Along with that, Philly’s general manager Ron Hextall is known to have a strict organizational philosophy.
Hextall believes that all prospects can be better served by beginning their careers in the AHL and working their way up by developing their skills and confidence.
Whatever the Flyers have planned for their young defensive prospect from Pembroke Pines, Shayne has definitely proven he can be a key blue-line asset for the Philadelphia Flyers.
We all look forward to following his progress and eventually watching him light it up on Broad Street in orange and white.