There was a lot of talk that the Flyers could be among the movers and shakers at the NHL Draft on Sunday. Instead they wound up staying put at number 11, selecting 17-year-old defenseman Samuel Morin.
Paul Holmgren admitted the Flyers would lean toward defense, but the specific choice came as something of a surprise. The embattled general manager wound up passing on the higher-rated Ryan Pulock and Nikita Zadorov to grab Morin, the fourth blueliner taken.
Apparently Morin was something of a late-riser on draft boards. At one point viewed as a mid-round pick, he began creeping higher and higher in the prospect rankings over the past year. NHL.com lists him 23rd among North American skaters, up from 76th.
Morin is 6-6, 203 lbs., and turns 18 in July. Early reports are the Quebec native is a pure defensive defenseman, although the hope is he can develop more of an offensive presence. He’s probably a couple years away from joining the Flyers.
Morin posted four goals and 12 assists in 46 games in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season, missing time due to an upper-body injury. He added a score and six helpers over six playoff games.
He’s no stranger to the penalty box either, nor is he afraid to drop the gloves, racking up 133 total penalty minutes in regular season and playoffs combined.
There is a feeling the Flyers could have used somebody who would make an immediate contribution. With the addition of Mark Streit to the back end, the healthy returns of Nicklas Grossmann, Braydon Coburn, and Andrej Meszaros (assuming none of them are traded), and the impressive play of youngsters Erik Gustafsson and Oliver Lauridsen down the stretch last season, the club probably has time to allow Morin to progress.
There will possibly be some outcry over the front office operating outside the consensus rankings as well. Again, Morin’s stock was on the rise, so obviously the organization is projecting he will be better than what was left. Whether the gamble pays off or not remains to be seen.
The Flyers undoubtedly would have liked to move up and nab Seth Jones, who slipped to fourth overall, or even Darnell Nurse or Rasmus Ristolainen at seven and eight respectively. They may not have had the firepower to do so, at least not that they were willing to part with anyway.
So it’s Morin, over Pulock, over Zadorov – two players he will forever be compared to during his time in Philadelphia. Without an NHL-ready first-round pick, and no wheeling and dealing to speak of thus far, the Flyers are increasingly likely to be active as free agency approaches.
Vancouver Trades Schneider to New Jersey
Another development that could concern the Flyers was the blockbuster deal between Vancouver and New Jersey. The Canucks sent 27-year-old Cory Schneider to the Devils for the ninth overall pick, which was used on center Bo Horvat.
Not only did a division rival manage to land their goaltender of the future, but that should effectively put an end to any Roberto Luongo to Philly rumors. Luongo is expected to remain in Vancouver for now rather than receive a compliance buyout.
Luongo was always a longshot to wind up in Orange & Black anyway, but without the buyout that once seem imminent, it's one less option on the table for the Flyers.