Flyers Select Defenseman Sam Morin 11th Overall

Flyers Select Defenseman Sam Morin 11th Overall

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.

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

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The Associated Press

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

Pete Mackanin dropped second baseman Cesar Hernandez to eighth in the batting order for Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals.

“If you want to call it a message you can call it a message,” Mackanin said.

Hernandez entered the game hitting .255 with a .616 OPS. Last year, he hit .272 with and .687 OPS.

“I expect more out of him,” Mackanin said. “I think he's a better hitter than he's shown. I think he's a .280 hitter and I think he's at .250. I want to see improvement. We need him to get back up to .280, where I think he belongs. He’s got to make adjustments. We need offense.”

Mackanin pointed to Hernandez’ double-play partner, shortstop Freddy Galvis, as an example of a player who has made improvements.

Galvis entered Tuesday night hitting .257 with a .696 OPS. But in the month of May, he was hitting .277 with a .708 OPS.

“Freddy is starting to come on,” Mackanin said. “He’s starting to make adjustments.”

Galvis has also played excellent defense.

The Phillies are a rebuilding club with a number of potential big-league contributors rounding out their development in the minors. The team’s top prospect is a shortstop – J.P. Crawford – and he’s in Triple A now. It’s not out of the question that he will be the team’s opening day shortstop next season.

Crawford’s eventual ascension impacts both Galvis and Hernandez. Galvis can also play second base. Whether Hernandez or Galvis becomes the second baseman when Crawford arrives could be determined by who hits. This is the time to make impressions.

“That's basically what it boils down to,” Mackanin said. “I've even talked to them about that — 'It's an important year for both of you because there are people who want to be in the big leagues that are in the minor leagues and want to take your job.' You have to approach it that way. You can't let down. You have to stay focused and work hard.”

While all signs point to Crawford taking over at shortstop in the future, Mackanin said Galvis’ defense should not be taken for granted.

“As well as Freddy is playing shortstop, you'd hate to move a guy like that out of that position,” Mackanin said. “It's a defensive position and he's been so good at it.”

Galvis entered Tuesday night with just two errors in 50 games. His .990 fielding percentage trailed only San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford and Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, both .995.

National champion Villanova honored by President Obama

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National champion Villanova honored by President Obama

WASHINGTON — For the most successful senior class in the history of Villanova basketball, Tuesday's trip to the White House was the culmination of a championship season and quite possibly the final time the 2016 National Championship team will be together as one.

President Barack Obama praised their poise, which was epitomized by the final play when Ryan Arcidiacono fed Kris Jenkins for the buzzer-beating, championship-winning three-pointer.

"A lot of teams would have had their spirit broken — the Wildcats, they took control, they responded," Obama said. "And on a play called ' 'Nova,' Kris took a pass from Arch and pulled up a few steps behind the line and shot this team into basketball lore. That was a good shot. It was like Christian Laettner-good. It was like a Jimmy-V-running-up-and-down-the-court shot. Charles Barkley apparently jumped out of his seat, which — (laughter) — he doesn’t do very often these days." 

In what has become customary for a championship team's visit, head coach Jay Wright presented the 44th President of the United States with a Wildcat jersey and the number "44." The Wildcats wore the uniform when they played Oklahoma on Dec. 7 of last year in Obama's home state of Hawaii.

"This was an amazing day for us," Wright said. "We not only presented him with the jersey, but with a picture of him that mirrored Kris Jenkins hitting that game-winning shot, because we've got a lot of respect for him as a great leader."

While gracious as guests at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., it was the Wildcats who spoiled Obama's tournament bracket when they knocked off the president's pre-tournament pick, Kansas, in the Elite Eight on their way to the Final Four. At the time he made his picks back in March, Obama mentioned Wright's Wildcats, telling ESPN, "I know eventually they're going to break through." He just wasn't confident enough to see the 'Cats win it all roughly three and a half weeks later.

Obama on Tuesday confirmed he should have listened to his second-in-command, "Joe (Biden) wanted me to remind you that he picked 'Nova to win it all. This is the type of wise counsel that you are looking for from a vice president. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow his counsel and so my bracket was busted.

Wearing a stars-and-stripes bow tie, junior Josh Hart, who decided last week to return to Villanova for his senior season, attended nearby Sidwell Friends School, where he was a classmate with President Obama's oldest daughter Malia.

"We talked a little, not too much," Hart said. "I try to give her some space. She's busy with senior projects and graduation and stuff."

Now Hart will refocus on guiding Villanova to become the first school since the Florida Gators in 2006-07 to win back-to-back National titles, and with that, a return trip to the White House.

Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

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Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

Tony Hawk has skateboarded at the White House. Women's lacrosse champions have worn fliflops at the White House.

Now, the Villanova Wildcats have done the Running Man Challenge at the White House.

The video was shared on Kris Jenkins' Instagram account this afternoon. They don't call him "Big Smooth" for nothing.

Officially ending this Runningman challenge. Presidential edition. #GameBlouses #NovaSzn

A video posted by Kris Jenkins (@bigsmoove2) on

In case you missed it earlier, President Obama welcomed the 2016 NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats to his crib and called Jay Wright the, "George Clooney of coaches." He's not wrong.