NEWARK, N.J. -- Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the Flyers chose a lower-rated defenseman than Ryan Poluck in the first round.
The Flyers have always been about big, mean and tough.
That’s precisely what they got in the first round of Sunday’s NHL draft at Prudential Center in 6-foot-6, 202-pound defenseman Samuel Morin (see story)
He is a prototypical Flyer.
He represents the safe pick -- a stay-at-home guy who will make players pay a price, will carve out a large piece of real estate in his own zone, and won’t allow any squatters.
Chris Pronger liked what we saw in a soon-to-be 18-year-old kid, who said he idolized Pronger -- no one else -- growing up in Lac-Beauport, Quebec.
“You don’t necessarily have to catch them,” Pronger said of smaller, quicker players like a Patrick Kane. “Because when you are mean, they don’t come near you."
Pronger analyzed some film for the Flyers on Morin in his new role as a part-time scout.
“You want to see how they can compete,” he said. “How they make players pay a price. Whether it be stand in front or go in the corner, whatever case it may be. Those little intangibles ... a big strong kid. He obviously plays tough, plays mean. Good feet for a big man.”
Morin would project very much like Luke Schenn -- a defensive defenseman with an edge. He had 117 penalty minutes last season for Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Pulock was ranked the 12th best North American player by NHL Central Scouting, whereas Morin was ranked 23rd. Also, there were six other defensemen, including Pulock, who were on the board and ranked ahead of Morin when the Flyers chose.
“Two different types of players,” Pronger said of Morin versus Pulock, who dropped to the Islanders at No. 15.
“Having a big man that plays tough and mean and can move. He has a lot to work on as most players do. The maturation process of where he was at the beginning of the year and it’s been trending [upward], it intrigued a lot of scouts, a lot of people who watched. Add that with the toughness factor and the way he plays the game.”
In two years of junior play, Morin only has 24 total points. Offense is not his game.
“I wouldn’t characterize him as a power-play quarterback,” Pronger said. "That being said, nothing beats a good outlet pass. It helps your transition game and allows you to get on the attack faster and that is something every player wants.”
Former NHL executive Craig Button, now an analyst for TSN, predicted the Flyers would take Morin.
“Look at what Zdeno Chara does.” Button said. “It’s size, it’s wing span, and Samuel Morin has just gotten better and better and better from the time he was 15. He skates well.
“He can turn and go for the puck. He can escape when in trouble. He makes a really good pass out of the zone. Part of offense is not spending a lot of time in your own zone. Not only can he close the play defensively, he can get the puck out of trouble.”
Bob Clarke once said that he hated playing against big, tall defensemen, and Clarke was a Hall of Famer.
“This kid has an edge, has a mean streak and he will hit and fight and he has a lot of room to get better. Isn’t that a Flyer defenseman?”
Pronger said the challenge now -- Morin projects to be about two years away -- is for him to continue to be quicker than smaller players in tight spaces.
“As a big man, he has to continue to work on his feet, his quickness, his mobility,” Pronger said. “As a big man, you can never be quick enough trying to catch all those water bugs out there [on the ice].
“Recognizing that quick first pass, puck skills, handling the puck, those are things all young kids have to work on, especially when you are that big, and play with an edge.”