When Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault took to the virtual podium for his end-of-season interviews, he touched upon the future of the roster, with one of his most interesting comments revolving around defenseman Samuel Morin.
He said the expectation is for the 6″7 25-year-old to start the season with the Phantoms and get 50-60 games under his belt before playing with the Flyers. On what seems like a passing remark, that actually paints an interesting picture on not only Morin’s future, but the Flyers’ blueline next season.
First and foremost, there may net even be an AHL season next year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The current plan is still for the American League to start in early December, but if they can not allow fans in a majority, or any, buildings, it’d be a financial disaster as the live gate is where a large portion of their income comes from. And if the AHL does somehow start back up for the 2020-21 season, there’s a chance they wouldn’t even play 50-60 games anyway. From a development perspective, asking a player who has seem just 25 professional hockey games since since the conclusion of the 2016-17 season to get a heavy AHL stint under his belt before he is considered for a return isn’t a crazy ask, but given the circumstances of the current landscape the world finds itself in, it may be an impossibility next season.
Writing Morin off is also an interesting look into Vigneault’s mind in regards to the defense core at the NHL level. Without Morin, the current players signed for next season are- Ivan Provorov, Matt Niskanen, Travis Sanheim, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Mark Friedman. Phil Myers is an RFA and will undoubtedly be signed to an extension eventually, Robert Hagg is an RFA as well and Justin Braun is an UFA.
Does that mean there’s no defensive shakeup on the horizon? Do they roll with the same six that they did this season with Hagg returning, Ghost in the lineup on the regular and Friedman as the seventh? Do they deal away Shayne Gostisbehere and look for help from outside the organization? Condemning one of their defenseman already under contract for next season limits their options for change.
All this coming after Vigneault let Morin sit in the pressbox for a full month before giving him a chance in an unfavorable matchup with the Islanders at the end of October before he was sent on a conditioning stint in Lehigh Valley where he would tear his ACL for the second time after 3 AHL games.
As the uphill battle Morin faces in an NHL return seemingly only get steeper, it’s possible Vigneault’s comments paint a bleak picture for Morin’s future with the Flyers organization. He is signed for one more year with just a $700,000 cap hit, and in a league where the salary cap will stay flat for the foreseeable future, maybe he could find himself on the block where a desperate team could take a cheap waiver on the hulking defenseman.
Time will tell what ends up happening to Samuel Morin’s career, but with the spirit this young man displays, it hard to not want to be in his corner and root for him to finally get to live his dream and be an NHL defenseman, with the Philadelphia Flyers or otherwise.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: inquirer.com