Rookie Samuel Morin plays a puck along the boards in the Flyers' exhibition shootout loss to the Capitals on Monday. (USA Today Images)
When the Flyers' rookie camp was at Skate Zone recently, the team's director of player personnel John Paddock remarked at how poised and beyond his years Samuel Morin looked on the ice.
“He makes plays that are pure hockey plays, which you don’t expect from an 18-year-old,” Paddock said.
People notice. And the team noticed, too, signing the young defenseman to an entry-level contract Tuesday.
Morin, who looks physically like a young Chris Pronger on the ice -- his hero -- has been nothing short of impressive in two camps now -- rookie and the full Flyers camp.
The Flyers' first-round pick at No. 11 last June in the NHL draft had a very solid first exhibition game Monday in the 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center.
“He was really composed out there with the puck,” said coach Craig Berube, who handled the split-squad in Philly. “That’s the thing that jumped out at me. Playing in his first exhibition in the NHL, I thought he was tremendous. He did some really good things with the puck.
“Hanging onto it, not panicking. He looked really good on the power play. Made a nice play to Vinny [Lecavalier] for a goal on the power play.”
Talk about impressive feats, stripping a Cap of the puck in the offensive zone, then whirling around and feeding Lecavalier at the right circle with a long, cross-ice pass.
Lecavalier one-timed it for a goal.
“A great pass by Sam,” Lecavalier said, adding that you can tell immediately this kid has NHL ability. “He's strong. You see 18-year-olds come in and see that they are not really ready. Their strength is not there.
“He’s tall (6-6) and you know he’s going to get bigger. You can tell on the ice. He has a strong stick. When he hits guys, he’s solid out there. He’s making great plays.
“It’s pretty rare when you look at NHL defensemen right now, his size and his toughness and what he can bring to the table. He’s going to have a very long career.”
Throughout the game, Morin was impressive with the puck on his stick, logging 23:14 in ice time, of which 4:41 was on the power play and 2:15 shorthanded.
“They want to give me a chance,” Morin said. “I got out on the power play with [Mark] Streit and Vinny. It was more easy for me and we talked a lot. He told me where to go.”
The Flyers' personnel department believes that Morin is a legit impact defenseman. If this were last season in which the Flyers were desperate for blue liners, you could make a case for him making the roster.
Given the Flyers are stocked on defense, the more prudent thing to do is send Morin back to junior and allow him to develop all around.
The organization is leaning that direction, too, but at the same time, its finding reasons to keep him here much like the Flyers did with rookie Luca Sbisa back in 2008, another first-round pick, taken at No. 19 that summer.
“I’m here to try to make the team [now],” Morin said. “From the rookie game to now, I try to make a good impression. First, I will try to get a contract ... just work hard and see what happens.”
Morin showed his physical side, too. Not that he was involved in any of the three fights in the game, but he picked up an elbowing penalty late in the third period.
Morin was paired with Streit in the game and got ample power play time with Lecavalier’s unit that included Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds, who were also a line in the game.
“What I learned?” Morin asked. “Just experience. Always move your feet. Execution is quicker.”
Archie to represent Snider Hockey
Kaseir Archie, a participant of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, has been selected to speak at the Childhood Obesity Summit in Washington, DC, this Friday, along with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Archie is a Kensington resident and participates in Snider Hockey's After School program at the Scanlon Rink. Archie is on the Junior Advisory Council of the National Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
It has been estimated that one in three American children are either overweight or obese.