Flyers Contingency Plan for the Blueline

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Philadelphia Flyers
Mar 27, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin (5) against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

With the Flyers blueline taking shape, things are becoming pretty clear. What’s not so clear is the Flyers plans for oft-injured defenseman Samuel Morin. With eight defensemen assumedly on the roster at this point, where does Morin fit? Chances are, he doesn’t.

It’s not the worst-case scenario. Too often, Morin has been sidelined with an injury. He missed nearly the entire 2017-18 season. He’s had multiple surgeries since being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2013. Something’s got to give, right?

Here’s where the guessing game gets interesting.

Earlier this offseason, Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher went out and acquired two veteran defensemen. Philadelphia traded Radko Gudas and two-thirds of his salary to Washington in exchange for Matt Niskanen. Shortly after, Fletcher dealt two picks to San Jose for 32-year-old right-handed defenseman Justin Braun.

With those acquisitions, it’s all but assured that Samuel Morin will either be watching games from the press box or playing with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Another year with Lehigh Valley may be just what he needs heading into the 2020-21 season.

What doesn’t help Morin is the fact that he’s played in eight NHL games throughout three seasons. On top of that, he played 17 AHL games during the same time frame. Morin needs a hard reset and a full season with the Phantoms could achieve just that.

With the acquisition of Justin Braun, the Flyers bought them that one year they need for Morin to develop. Braun will make $3.8 million this year and then he is off the books. Morin is on contract for this season and next at $700,000. If Braun doesn’t bounce back from a subpar 2018-19 campaign, it could be go-time for the Quebec native Morin.

One full season down with the Phantoms could prove to be the evidence Fletcher needs to put Morin in the NHL lineup. With the top two pairings all-but set in stone, Morin could be a great option for the third pairing. A big physical defenseman, he would be a great option as a fifth or sixth defenseman for the Flyers.

The key to this happening is Morin staying healthy. If Samuel Morin can stay healthy and play a majority of the AHL season, he could be in line for a starting role with the Flyers when the 2020-21 season rolls around. If Morin suffers a setback, he may find himself playing out the end of his current deal, and moving onto other opportunities, namely outside of the Flyers organization.

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports