It’s been an interesting six years since the Flyers selected Samuel Morin with the 11th overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft. Injuries, demotions, promotions, you name it. Morin has been through the ringer in his 6 years with the organization.
This year is going to be difficult for the big man. The Flyers currently have eight defensemen at the NHL level, and there seems to be no room for Morin. Barring a trade, Morin doesn’t seem to factor into the Flyers plans for the upcoming campaign.
So where do the Flyers go from here? The first option they have is to test the trade market. Gauging interest in Sam Morin would be wise. One could argue that Robert Hagg should be the guy on the block. However, in a season where the Flyers are looking to make some noise in the playoffs, it seems that they will likely go the route of the proven commodity rather than the unproven commodity in Morin.
It may even be beneficial to throw both names out their on the block. Dangle two types of bait and see which one attracts the most suitors. Both would almost assuredly draw some interest on the open market, it remains to be seen which would draw the most.
The Flyers know what they have in Robert Hagg. At best, he’s a plug-and-play option for the 3rd pairing on defense. With Sam Morin, the Flyers don’t really know what they have in him. He’s often been injured during times where he could have been showing Flyers brass what he’s capable of at the NHL level. If the Flyers are going to make a push for an extended playoff run, they need to know what they have in their players.
So the Flyers explore the trade route, and they have no takers. The next step is trying to sneak Morin through waivers. This won’t be an easy task, but it’s a risk that Chuck Fletcher may need to take in order to know what they have in Morin. Some more time in Lehigh Valley would ultimately benefit Morin in the long run. It would also assure Chuck Fletcher that, if Morin stayed healthy, he could depend on him if called up to the Flyers for an extended period of time.
Morin needs ice time, plain and simple. Sure, he played in 76 AHL games back in 2015-16, and 74 more the next season. Since then, he hasn’t played in more than 17 games total in a season. The only way Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers are going to be able to find out what Morin can really bring to the table is to find a way to get him some ice time with the Phantoms.
The Flyers’ blueline is stacked right now. Provorov, Niskanen, Braun, Sanheim, Gostisbehere, and Myers are all virtual locks to make up the defensive pairings. That leaves a 7th defenseman role available, which means they’d be sitting in the box until an injury or someone’s performance starts to slip. It’s going to be extremely difficult to see if Morin is ready for the NHL by keeping him off the ice.
It’s a risky situation. You’re either risking losing Morin to a waiver claim, or risking stunting his growth as a player by keeping him in the press box. At this point, it doesn’t look like he will garner any NHL ice time over camp stand-out Philippe Myers. The other 5 spots on the blueline are spoken for as well. If Morin wants ice time with the Flyers organization, his best bet is to hope he clears waivers and suit up for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.