Person of Interest: Flyers rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere

Elliotte Friedman breaks down the intriguing tale of Shayne Gostisbehere's journey to the NHL and whether he may earn some Calder Trophy nods despite having missed time.

With Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel front and centre, there was bound to be plenty of attention put on this season’s crop of rookies.

In addition to the top two picks in last summer’s draft, Dylan Larkin and Max Domi got off to red-hot starts and have continued to produce for the Red Wings and Coyotes, respectively. Not to mention 24-year-old rookie Artemi Panarin who is tearing it up playing alongside Patrick Kane in Chicago.

Another rookie taking the hockey world by storm, though, is Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere.

If he continues to produce at the rate he has so far (33 points in 39 games this season) he’ll remain in the Calder Trophy conversation into the spring.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the one they call “The Ghost” or “Ghost Bear” or if you’re fluent in emojis 👻 🐻.

Age: 22
Shoots: Left
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 160
Hometown: Pembroke Pines, Florida
Drafted: 78th overall by Flyers in 2012
Contract status: Two-way deal. $925,000 cap hit. Becomes RFA in 2017.

He already finds himself in the record book

Earlier this month, Gostisbehere set an NHL record for the longest point streak by a rookie defenceman at 11 games. The streak didn’t end there. As of Friday’s shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens, in which he registered an assist, Gostisbehere has logged a point in 14 consecutive games. In fact, he became the first blueliner to record a 13-game point streak since Brian Leetch did it with the Rangers in 1996.

He could make an impact at the World Cup for North America

Prior to the season, Gostisbehere wasn’t thought to be a frontrunner to make the only under-24 squad at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey but at this point it would be considered a snub if he’s left off the roster.

Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli and Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman are co-GMs for team North America and they’ll have to make up their minds on Gostisbehere soon.

“It’s actually been kind of cool in our meetings, because there’s always a guy whose game is taking off,” Chiarelli recently told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector. “Like Gostisbehere. We had him on our radar when he was in the minors. Since he’s been up, he’s just taken off.”

He has made an impression on a Hall of Famer

No one is going to compare Gostisbehere to Scott Stevens. Besides the fact they both shoot left, there isn’t too much they have in common stylistically. Gostisbehere is small and skilled, while Stevens was a feared physical presence. Still, Gostisbehere has caught the eye of Stevens. Earlier this week, Gostisbehere helped lead the Flyers to a 6-3 win over Stevens’ former Devils team.

“He’s just so smart and he’s years above his age,” Stevens said during a segment on the NHL Network. “He’s changed the dynamics of this team the way he moves the puck, the way he runs the power play, the way he delivers the puck from the point at the right time, the right height…He might put the puck at the net at the right time better than anybody in the league and this is his first year in the league so this guy’s outstanding.”

Stevens did point out that there are areas on the defensive side of things Gostisbehere can improve on.

He honed his craft at Union College

Gostisbehere spent three years at Union College where he was teammates with current Calgary Flames forward Josh Jooris. This is where NHL scouts first noticed him, however early in his collegiate career it certainly wasn’t apparent Gostisbehere would make a significant impact in the NHL.

“Believe me, it wasn’t one of those things where you go, ‘There’s a guy, he’s going to be a player,’ it wasn’t like that at all,” Flyers director of player development John Riley recently told the team’s website. “I don’t think he weighed 150 pounds. I mean, you saw him as a pretty good little player, but that was the extent of it. This was just some kid whose name you couldn’t pronounce who demonstrated some qualities like agility and puck moving, but not to the degree like you said, ‘Alright, we got this Shayne Gostisbehere.’”

As you can see from this video, Gostisbehere has matured quite a bit from his time as a Union freshman.

Despite his lack of size, Gostisbehere put up respectable numbers (82 points in 119 games) in his college career and helped lead Union to its first NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship in 2014. He was named to an all-star team in each of his seasons as well.

He has French roots and athletics run in the family

Gostisbehere is one of only eight Florida-born players to make it to the NHL. He represents the United States when he competes internationally (he was teammates with Johnny Gaudreau, Seth Jones, Alex Galchenyuk and others on the gold medal-winning Team USA at the 2013 world juniors) but he’s got duel U.S.-France citizenship. Regis Gostisbehere, his father, was born and raised in France but moved to Florida in the late ‘80s to become a professional jai alai player.

His sister was a talented figure skater so Gostisbehere was always at the rink as a kid and one day he told his mother he wanted to play hockey. His grandfather, Denis Brodeur, is from Quebec but also lives in Florida and he was one of Gostisbehere’s biggest supporters.

“I bought him a helmet, got him into a league and coached him for years before [former NHLer] Ray Sheppard took over,” Brodeur told the Sun-Sentinel back in 2014. “I told him I’m going to give you every opportunity to play hockey, and that he’s living grandpa’s dream because I never had that opportunity when my parents left Quebec.”

Brodeur, of no relation to Martin Brodeur, used to be a West Palm Beach Bruins industrial league traveling hockey player according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Gostisbehere’s cousin, Ugo Gostisbehere, is a professional soccer player in France.

He has no regard for Sportsnet property

During an interview with John Bartlett back in January following a win over the Canadiens, Gostisbehere had a microphone malfunction.

He loves tweeting photos of his dog

Seriously, he can’t get enough of his little buddy named Cooper.

Shayne Gostisbehere on Twitter

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