What To Make Of The Flyers Blue Line Situation

Youth movement, youth movement, youth movement. I know you’ve heard all about it. I know some of you are angry because of how it has all panned out recently. Your frustrations don’t go unheard, I promise you that. However, we all got our wish.

The fact of the matter is, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, and Travis Sanheim all made the team out of training camp. Given, they did because Shayne Gostisbehere was injured before the trip to the west coast. That injury forced the Flyers’ hand, and made them bring an extra blue liner just in case Ghost wasn’t ready to go.

The other fact of the matter is, and brace yourselves, one of these blue liners is going to have to go back down to the Phantoms, and Morin seems like the odd guy out. According to Brandon Sommermann, beat writer here at Philly Sports Network, Morin will end up back in Lehigh Valley shortly.

Right there is the first point of contention with most Flyers fans. For so long, not only have the fans wanted, but the Flyers have needed a big, strong, physical defenseman that could clear the porch in front of the goalie. We have a ready-made sweep man sitting in the press box for the past three games in Sam Morin. That’s not even the saddest part. The saddest part is that they aren’t even giving him a shot to prove himself against NHL competition.

Sure, Morin got his chance like the rest of the rookies during the preseason, but you’re not seeing NHL level competition in the preseason. You’ll see a few top level guys every now and then, but a team rarely dresses and plays their entire pro roster in the preseason. In that regard, I personally don’t think Morin got a fair shake. Am I happy that Sanheim and Hagg have found some success and are actually playing in the NHL? You bet I’m happy! Am I upset that Morin isn’t finding that same success? Yea, I definitely am.

The point being, the first few games should have almost been treated as a tryout for these three kids. It wasn’t. Morin never got the chance to play against REAL NHL level competition. Hagg did, and he had his ups and downs. Sanheim did and he also had his ups and downs. Morin just had a handful of downs as he sat in the press box and watched his two former Phantom teammates jump him in the pecking order.

Now, is there anything that can be done to rectify this situation? Can a move be made that would ensure that Morin gets a fair shake at potentially earning a starting job? Not anymore. Morin’s fate was sealed when Andrew MacDonald was given the “A”. Manning being benched had nothing to do with Morin earning a spot, because his roster spot was going to get plugged by Sanheim.

From what has been discussed, Manning may be on the move. A trade or demotion has been discussed to try and get a spot open for the third rookie on the blue line, but the right deal hasn’t quite taken shape. We all know Hextall, and he won’t pull the trigger unless the deal works for him. He will get something done when the right deal lands on his desk.

Quite honestly, I’m ok with Brandon Manning being the 7th defenseman. When called upon, he provides a bit of a spark that the team needs every now and then. If he needs to play on a night in night out basis, for a short period of time, I’m even ok with that as well. I find it hard to accept that fact that Brandon Manning could be a top 6 guy with the Flyers. Aside from MacDonald and Gudas, the Flyers have way too many young and talented defensemen for Manning to reside on that third pairing.

The sooner they get Manning off the roster, the better, because a demotion at this point for Morin might really be a hit to his self esteem. He had a pretty good preseason, made the team, and has sat in all three games so far this season. He thought he had a spot won and now he is hanging in the press box with Jori Lehtera. At this point, Morin has nothing more to learn in the AHL. He has honed and crafted his game with the Phantoms for a few years now, and deserves a crack at the big leagues. That simply won’t happen until Manning is sent down or traded, and forget about MacDonald getting demoted now that he has the “A” on his chest.

So what can we expect in the coming weeks? Well, for starters, expect Hextall to be busy trying to potentially move Manning for a mid to late round pick. After that, expect blood. I’m kidding, but you should absolutely expect some hard hits and gritty play once Morin cracks that lineup. Morin will bring a sense of physicality that the Flyers have lacked for such a long time, and it will be completely welcome. Fans everywhere will be happy once Morin gets his shot. They, and I, have been waiting a long time for Morin to grace the blue lines of the NHL. We have needed someone like him since Chris Pronger left the Flyers. The time is now, and Hextall needs to pull the trigger as soon as humanly possible.

Yes, I do understand that the Flyers will have three rookies, a sophomore and a junior on defense, quite possibly being the youngest defensive core in hockey. However, you can’t deny talent, and these kids have it, or else they wouldn’t be on the team. These rookies have been highly touted ever since they were chosen in their respective drafts, and what better time to introduce them to the fans than now?

There is no better time. The time is now, let the youth infusion take full effect this season. There will be rough parts this season, but there will be great parts as well. When the kids play well, we will see success. When they don’t we may taste failure. They will not make or break this team, but them playing up to expectations could pay ridiculous dividends in the end.

 

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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