In one of the more baffling move that has come out of the Philadelphia Flyers in recent memory, Chuck Fletcher has announced that 25-year-old, 6″7 defenseman Samuel Morin will convert to left wing for the 2021 season.
Morin, who missed almost the entire 2019-20 season after suffering a second torn ACL, has been skating in Philadelphia for the past few months as he travels down the road to recovery once again. After the Flyers added defenseman Erik Gustafsson to the roster during the offseason, while retaining the services of Robert Hagg, Justin Braun, and Mark Friedman, meant the returning Morin was push way down the defensive depth chart. With an NHL roster spot unlikely and the AHL season still in limbo, head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant Ian Laperriere approached the hulking 25-year-old about a position change.
The move signals that the coaching staff was aware of trepidation in the lineup during the playoffs, where the Flyers failed to keep pace with the much heavier Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders.
Fletcher said of Morin during his press conference-
“We’re committed to it. Size and having a physical component is incredibly important to winning a playoff series. We think Sam can contribute those elements.”
It’s a positive way to address a pretty glaring hole in the lineup. Players like Morin my have gone the way of the dinosaurs, but he’s going to bring something unique to the lineup that nobody else on the roster does or can.
The news, ironically enough, comes after a week where Flyers fans took to Twitter to argue about size, grit, and physical presence in the lineup is needed or not.
His physical style of play is not something that is readily available in the NHL these days. While Corey Perry or Matt Martin may bring even more intangibles than Morin given their long, successful careers, at the end of the day, the level of physicality, which is seemingly what Fletcher wanted to address is unmatched. It was a creative way for the Flyers to add that missing link to the roster without looking outside the organization.
The battle for Morin is not over just yet. The depth at forward is still exceptional, and a full time roster spot certainly isn’t guaranteed, but having Morin as a swing, especially with the tight back-to-backs against the same teams, could be a great secret weapon if the going gets tough. Morin is on the last year of a deal that pays him a mere $700,000 this season.
The big man will get one more chance to make his mark in Philadelphia this season, almost seven years after he was drafted. Time will tell if this experiment pays off or not, but for right now it’s hats off for Vigneault and Fletcher, who killed two birds with one stone bringing Morin back and adding some much needed grit to the lineup.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com