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.

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his work load management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”

Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

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Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Rust had his first career hat trick, Sidney Crosby added his NHL-leading 17th goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins raced by the Ottawa Senators 8-5 on Monday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel each had a goal and two assists for Pittsburgh, and Matt Cullen and Justin Schultz also scored. The Penguins poured in six goals over the final 32 minutes after spotting the Senators a 4-2 lead. Matt Murray made 17 saves after coming in for an ineffective Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period.

Pittsburgh has won three straight overall and improved to 7-0-2 in its last nine against the Senators.

Matt Stone had a goal and two assists for Ottawa. Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Dion Phaneuf also scored for Ottawa, which lost in regulation for just the second time in its last eight games (see full recap).

Capitals rally late for OT win over Sabres
WASHINGTON -- Marcus Johansson scored the tying goal late in the third period and got the winner midway through overtime to lift the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

The goals were Johansson's third and fourth in his last five games. He has 11 for the season.

Jay Beagle added the Capitals' first even-strength goal in three games, as Washington snapped a three-game losing skid. Braden Holtby made 31 saves in the victory, the Capitals second over the Sabres in an 11-day stretch.

Kyle Okposo scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season to give the Sabres the lead in the second period. Zemgus Girgensons also scored early for Buffalo, and Robin Lehner made 30 stops for the visitors (see full recap).

Blue Jackets sweep series from Coyotes
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sam Gagner had two goals and two assists to help the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Arizona Coyotes for the second time in three days, 4-1 on Monday night.

Nick Foligno and Zach Werensky also scored for the Blue Jackets, who won for the fourth straight time and ninth of their last 12. Columbus picked up its 500th win in franchise history in sweeping the two-game season series with the Coyotes.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 17 shots for Columbus.

Arizona backup goaltender Louis Domingue had 30 saves, two days after the Blue Jackets hammered starter Mike Smith with a franchise-record 60 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory in Phoenix.

Arizona struck first 9:28 into the game when Alex Goligoski fed a pass on a power play to Tobias Reider, who slammed it past Bobrovsky's glove side from between the circles (see full recap).