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Breaking down why Sam Morin is Flyers' odd man out on defense

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Through the first three games of the season, 21 of the 23 players on the Flyers' roster have seen action in at least one game so far.
 
Sam Morin and Jori Lehtera spent the West Coast portion of this four-game road trip either watching from the press box or working out in the bowels of the arena.
 
While few people may be questioning the Lehtera decision, Morin is the 6-foot-6 elephant in the Flyers' dressing room right now with a stick that measures nearly that same size. 
 
Morin clearly believes he earned his roster spot and was confident in his overall performance during the preseason to warrant a spot on one of the three defense pairings. A week ago, when his bags were packed for San Jose, Morin spoke of achieving a dream by making the opening night roster, but that he needed to keep going.
 
However, the latter part of that grand plan isn’t going well at all.
 
If Morin doesn’t crack the Flyers' lineup Tuesday in Nashville, management will have to seriously consider reassigning the 22-year-old defenseman to Lehigh Valley so he can continue his development, because sitting idle isn’t beneficial for the player or the organization (see weekly observations).
 
“I don’t have the answer,” general manager Ron Hextall said Thursday. “If you want a definite answer, I don’t have it. We’re not going to carry eight defensemen. It could be tomorrow, a week from now or two weeks from now, but we’re not going to carry eight for long."
 
The decision to carry eight defensemen from the outset was the result of an upper-body injury to Shayne Gostisbehere and the uncertainty of his status, but now, that’s no longer an issue.
 
While Hextall has stated how pleased he’s been with the effort of all three rookie defensemen following the preseason, it’s not a matter of which rookie deserves to be in the lineup, but the manner in which Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol prefer to construct their pairings.
 
Ivan Provorov and Andrew MacDonald — Whether you like it or not, this pair isn’t going to change, at least, not anytime soon.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg — A stay-at-home defenseman combined with a mobile, offensive-minded defenseman. It’s a good blend and with Hagg’s comfort level playing the right side, that’s another key attribute to why he’s been a mainstay in the lineup. 
 
Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning/Travis Sanheim/Morin — Since Gudas is more of a physical force who doesn’t venture too far from the opponent’s blue line, Hakstol has shown a preference to pair him with Sanheim’s mobility and offensive upside.
 
Credit Sanheim, who has improved from his first game in Los Angeles to his second game in Anaheim. Moreover, Sanheim earned Hakstol’s trust, playing 4:53 in the third period of a tied game — the most ice time Sanheim has seen in his six periods of action.
 
“I thought he picked up where he left off in the third period in L.A.,” Hakstol said Saturday, “which was back to playing his game … moving his feet well. I thought he played a pretty confident game.”
 
Right now, it’s all about fit, and Sanheim appears to be the better choice playing alongside Gudas. I’d be surprised if Hakstol deviated from that against a very quick Predators team that prefers to get in hard and fast on their forecheck, and if he did, he very likely would revert back to Manning.
 
All of which has left Morin in an uncomfortable position, no matter how comfortable the press box seating is.