(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)
The Flyers defenseman who took the league by storm as a rookie was just another player on the Orange and Black that didn't have the kind of year he was looking for in 2016-17.
Shayne Gostisbehere saw his points total drop off somewhat from a standout rookie season -- particularly in the goal column where he went from 17 his rookie season to seven last season -- and played in 76 games while being a healthy scratch five times throughout the season.
For Gostisbehere, it was a difficult summer entering the 2016-17 season. He had offseason surgery on his hip and abdominal muscles, then took the ice in the World Cup of Hockey in August. From the start of the season, it was apparent the dynamic nature of his game wasn't there.
"It's your thought process," Gostisbehere said to NHL.com. "You're making cuts, you're doing things [and] you think about it. 'I could have gone a little faster there. Is that from the surgery?' It's more mental than anything."
Gostisbehere was a complete professional in handling the games where he was a healthy scratch. The 24-year-old did not have to deal with that kind of adversity in his career before, but focused on the positives.
"You've got to be a good team player about it," Gostisbehere said. "Can't make it about yourself. Yeah, you don't want to be a healthy scratch, but you take the positives from it. I think I did that. I got better off the ice when my team was on the ice."
This season is going to be different for Gostisbehere for several reasons. For one, Gostisbehere finished the season in good health and truly got to prepare for the upcoming 2017-18 season as he expected. With nothing holding him back, Gostisbehere is ready to bounce back.
"I had a different summer last year. I was going through some hectic rehab. This year, I got to have a great summer of training and taking care of my body and I think that's the biggest thing for me," Gostisbehere said. "I really have no excuses here, I should have a great year and that's what I'm looking forward to.
"Now I feel really explosive, I feel really strong. I'm coming in with a great summer under my belt and I'm going to keep that going into the season. It's going to be an exciting season."
The other difference is in the roster the Flyers are likely to field in the 2017-18 season. Gostisbehere may be just 24 and have only one full NHL season under his belt, but he'll be one of the veterans on the blue line, given that at least two rookies -- with Sam Morin, Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim all among the candidates -- could be part of the roster come October among the defensemen.
Gostisbehere, who just signed a six-year, $27 million contract in the offseason, fully plans on being a leader and mentor for the players even younger than he on the roster.
"If they want to bounce ideas off me, I'll lead the way for them," Gostisbehere said. "Show them how to be good pros."
In recent days, Claude Giroux noted that the team is getting an injection of youth to the roster and that it is the one known aspect of the roster before the team takes the ice in training camp. That isn't lost on Gostisbehere either, who is ready for an exciting season with even more of a youth movement.
"I think going into this season we're really focused," Gostisbehere said. "We're going to have a young, fun, exciting team to watch. And it's going to be a great season."