After getting swept this past weekend by the Bruins and Capitals, its quite evident that the Flyers have hit rock bottom for the season. They are a putrid 2-8 in their past ten games and they are hanging on for dear life to the last wildcard spot. The Flyers maintain a one point advantage over the Carolina Hurricanes for that position.
Head coach Dave Hakstol has tried pressing the right buttons by switching up the lines and moving different players in and out of the lineup. He has tried going with whatever goaltender seems hot, but honestly both were equally as bad this past weekend.
It appears the Flyers lack that guy to spark them. Last year, Ron Hextall called up Shayne Gostisbehere to replace an injured Mark Streit on the roster. Gostisbehere was an immediate spark plug the Flyers lacked. He propelled the Flyers into a surprise playoff berth, going on to finish 2nd in the Calder Trophy voting as rookie of the year.
Before Gostisbehere was called up, the Flyers were 5-8-3 in November 2015. After his call up, the Flyers were 9-4-3 by the end of December 2015. The Flyers should not panic and make unnecessary trades that will not help them in the future. They have 2 young prospects in the system that might be able to provide the spark Gostisbehere did last season.
1. Samuel Morin
Samuel Morin was born July 12, 1995 in Lac-Beauport, Quebec, Canada. At 21 years old, he currently plays for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL as a defenseman. He was selected by the Flyers at 11th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. When he was still on the draft board by the time the Flyers had to pick, player personnel for scouting Chris Pronger advised the Flyers to select him.
A central scout for the Flyers Chris Pryor was quoted as saying, “We have heard those whispers he is being compared to Chris Pronger or Zdeno Chara.” Being 6′ 7” and 227 pounds, there is no wonder he would be compared to either of those great players.
Last season was his first full season playing for the Phantoms. He had 4 goals and 15 assists, for a total of 19 points in 76 games played. This season, Morin has 2 goals, 5 assists, for a total of 7 points in 36 games played.
On December 9, 2016 the Phantoms were playing the Rochester Americans. The Phantoms won the game 3-2, but it was Morin grabbing the headlines. Morin got involved into a fight with a 23 year old center Mike Aviani. Travis Hughes stated, “Morin turns Aviani into a rag doll, dragging him along the ice after knocking him down with basically one punch.”
If this does not get the team pumped up, then no one knows what would. According to scouts, Morin has been more defensively minded. He clears the the front of the net at ease like Pronger did, so goalies can have a clear sight of the puck.
According to hockey writers, “Morin’s physicality is one of his biggest strengths. He plays sound defensively, but could be quicker on his feet. He should be a good defender in the NHL.” His presence in the front of the net could be the help the Flyers need, as teams in the past two games have scored 6 redirection goals.
To make room for Morin, Hextall could place Andrew Macdonald on waivers. After Macdonald clears waivers, Hextall could send him to the Phantoms. There would be enough salary shedded to accept Morin’s cap hit of $925,000, and keep him with the big club.
2. Travis Sanheim
Travis Sanheim was born March 26, 1996 in Elkhorn, Manitoba, Canada. He was selected by the Flyers 17th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft as a defenseman. After being drafted by the Flyers, he was sent to play for a junior club in the WHL called the Calgary Hitmen for the 2013-14 season.
Sanheim flourished with the Hitmen in his first full year. He had 5 goals, 24 assists, for a total of 29 points. For his next two seasons he had a combined 30 goals, 103 assists, for a total of 133 points in 119 games played.
He was promoted to the Phantoms in 2015-16, as the Flyers signed him to a three year entry level contract during that summer. For the current season he has 1 goal, 2 assists, for a total of 3 points in four games played.
Scouts say he is a future top pairing defenseman, who has a chance to become one of the NHL’s elite. Sanheim has posted some incredible numbers at the junior level in the WHL, and his numbers with the phantoms are equal to where Gostisbehere’s was when he was called up.
Sanheim offers the Flyers a versatile puck moving defenseman. His speed and agility as a two way defenseman should earn him a look with the big club. Hextall could waive Andrew Macdonald like stated above, and that would be enough salary shedded to accept his $925,000 cap hit.
The Flyers should not make a panic pressured trade to jolt the team. Those moves as seen in years past do not work out the majority of the time. Hextall has enough pieces in the system to give a jolt to this club. The effort and the grit is still evident with the club. They just need someone to step up. The Flyers are off until Saturday 21, 2017 with a 1 pm tilt against the New Jersey Devils. Follow me on Twitter @Jamey Baskow for all Flyers updates.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports