Flyers, Lecavalier impressed by Sam Morin

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Flyers, Lecavalier impressed by Sam Morin

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.

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Flyers free-agent goalie fits: Jonathan Bernier

Each day this week until July 1, the day free agency begins, Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile the five best goalie options for the Flyers on the open market and project their likelihood of signing.

Jonathan Bernier
Age: 28
Height: 6-0
Weight: 184
Last team: Anaheim Ducks
2016-17 cap hit: $4.15 million

Scouting report
After being drafted 11th overall in 2006, Bernier was a highly-touted goaltender coming up in the Los Angeles Kings system and performed well in a backup role for five seasons in L.A.

But with Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, Bernier was blocked from getting a viable opportunity to be a No. 1 with the Kings. In June 2013, they shipped him to Toronto.

Bernier did not capitalize on his opportunity with the Maple Leafs, however. He never established himself as a high-end starting goalie in three seasons despite a strong first year.

In 2013-14, Bernier was 26-19-7 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .923 save percentage with the Leafs but that save percentage continually dropped the next two years.

Toronto decided to cut ties with Bernier after the 2015-16 season and traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick. He spent last season backing up John Gibson.

Appearing in 39 games last season for the Ducks, Bernier posted a 21-7-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and two shutouts.

One note about Bernier: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was an assistant GM in Los Angeles when the Kings drafted him in 2006, so there is a connection there.

Dougherty's projection
I don’t think Bernier is the best option available for the Flyers but the most likely. Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the Hextall connection here, maybe not. We’ll see.

Bernier fits what the Flyers appear to want in a goalie going forward: a short-term veteran option who can share the net with Michal Neuvirth in a platoon situation.

Hextall isn’t looking for the Flyers’ goalie of the future this summer. He believes he has that in the system already but needs to bide time for Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom.

But he will be looking for a goalie who he can trust playing around 40 games or more next season and give the team quality in net. In that role, Bernier would be a solid fit.

He hasn’t panned out as projected and we could use him as one example of why we don’t see many goaltenders drafted high in the first round. They’re tough to project.

With that said, Bernier has found success in the past, including last season in Anaheim, in either a platoon or backup situation. He’ll come at a reasonable price, too.

A tandem of Neuvirth-Bernier would not be the worst thing in the world for the Flyers; it wouldn’t be the best, either. I think it would give them enough in net to compete.

If I had to predict which goaltender on the market will be here next season, it is Bernier.

Hall's projection
I see Bernier as one of the least realistic options for the Flyers.
 
The 2006 11th overall pick hasn't quite lived up to the hype, but he still has some cachet, probably too much for the Flyers in this spot.
 
He turns only 29 in August and in a backup role last season, his 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage still ranked in the top 15 among NHL goalies that played 39 games or more.
 
The role and price in which the Flyers will offer shouldn't attract Bernier much. From the sound of Hextall, I expect him to be judicious in adding a goalie. This sounds much more like a stopgap, temporary position than anything future oriented.
 
There's a connection with the Flyers' GM here, but that might be it when it comes to the Bernier scenario.

Paone's projection
I find Bernier to be an intriguing option for the Flyers.

First and foremost, there is plenty of familiarity with Bernier within the Flyers' organization. Hextall and current Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh were both parts of the Kings' organization when Bernier was drafted in 2006 and worked with him during his development into an NHL goaltender. They not only know the type of player and competitor they'd be getting, they also know the type of person they'd be getting and that plays a role, too.

Bernier had a very strong campaign for the Ducks last season. That certainly makes him an attractive option for the Flyers. He did his best to prove he can be a reliable option again after things soured for him in Toronto. But, hey, a lot of things went sour in Toronto during those times.

But that strong campaign with Anaheim last season will have Bernier wanting opportunity and more of it. With Neuvirth entrenched here, how much opportunity would there actually be for Bernier here? Would the Flyers present the type of opportunity he's looking for after last year's showing with the Ducks? My guess is no. He'll likely want an opportunity to take on much more of a workload.

So while the option is intriguing for many reasons and it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility, I ultimately feel this is an option both he and the Flyers pass on.

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

Flyers re-sign defenseman Mark Alt to 1-year, 2-way deal

One day after extending qualifying offers to seven restricted free agents (see story), the Flyers re-signed Mark Alt, who was unrestricted.

The Phantoms' defenseman agreed to a one-year, two-way deal on Tuesday that will play him $125,000 in the AHL and $650,000 in the NHL.

The 25-year-old has played four years with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. 

He had one goal and 11 points last season in 40 AHL games.

Alt's only NHL appearance was his debut as a Flyer on March 28, 2015, at San Jose.

Alt has 68 points (12 goals) in 237 AHL games.