It's an Important Time to Focus on Shayne Gostisbehere's Ability, Not His Struggles

VOORHEES, N.J. - Shayne Gostisbehere has not had the season many envisioned.

His signature elusiveness and shot haven't resulted in offensive production, as Gostisbehere's numbers (five goals, 15 assists, minus-12 rating) are down noticeably from years past.

He was recently taken off of the first-unit power play, no longer controlling the point where he had burst onto the scene in 2015-16 and became a fixture for the Flyers.

Earlier this week, his name even surfaced among NHL trade buzz when TSN's Bob McKenzie addressed the Flyers' defenseman on TSN 690 Montreal.

The discussion was spurred after Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher essentially said the club had no untouchables other than Claude Giroux, who has a no-movement clause in his contract.

Here's some of what McKenzie had to say Monday:

They've got multifaceted plans in Philadelphia in terms of, 'We could keep this guy and we could move that guy, or we could keep that guy and move this guy,' and flip it around depending on what the interest is and what the prices are.

But Gostisbehere is a real good young defenseman who hasn't played to his potential with the Philadelphia Flyers recently, and you've got to be careful to give those guys away. … Gostisbehere is a name that's been out there, but I don't know that it's at the top of the list of things that Chuck Fletcher wants to move out of town.

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And it shouldn't be.

Fletcher is smart to not take anything off the table. He's doing his due diligence by leaving all doors open because it can't hurt to listen on offers ahead of the Feb. 25 trade deadline.

However, Gostisbehere should be as close to an untouchable as any other player on the Flyers' roster. He shouldn't be judged off of 48 games during a season in which the entire team has had its struggles.

Remember, Gostisbehere is only 25 years old.

He has a reasonable cap hit of $4.5 million through the 2022-23 season.

His offensive skill set for a defenseman is indispensable in today's NHL.

His 65 points last season were a career high and fourth among NHL blueliners, while his 33 power-play points were first.

He was a Calder Memorial Trophy finalist his rookie season, highlighted by 17 goals and a 15-game point streak, the longest ever by a first-year NHL defenseman.

"He's pretty dynamic up there," James van Riemsdyk said during the preseason of Gostisbehere's ability to run the power-play point. "He's got a ton of skill and an unbelievable hockey sense. No play is ever out of the question for him, so you just try to get in good spots and he makes it look pretty easy up there."

Gostisbehere has missed the Flyers' last three games because of a lower-body injury. He's a game-time decision for Saturday's home contest against the Oilers (1 p.m./NBCSP) after being a "pleasant surprise" during practice Friday, according to interim head coach Scott Gordon.

Gostisbehere's absence is big. His return will be even bigger.

"We all know what Ghost can do," Gordon said.

Let's not forget that.

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