Samuel Morin

2 Flyers prospects have grown by 'leaps and bounds'

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AP Images

2 Flyers prospects have grown by 'leaps and bounds'

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Mikhail Vorobyev, C, 21, 6-2/207, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Vorobyev returned to action last week after missing more than a month with an undisclosed injury. Vorobyev recorded an assist in his first game back Friday night in Lehigh Valley’s 5-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. It was the Russian’s first game since Dec. 12. He was pointless in the Phantoms’ 3-2 OT loss Saturday to Utica.

“He’s another guy that is leaps and bounds from where he was at the start of the year,” Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon told NBC Sports Philadelphia last week. “It was disappointing that he got hurt when he did because he was starting to come into his own, starting to get more confidence in how he needed to play over here in a smaller rink and the spacing of it and not playing a perimeter game and getting more to the net.”

Samuel Morin, D, 22, 6-7/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Morin’s latest injury forced the hulking defenseman to miss the Phantoms’ final three games before the AHL All-Star break. He's appeared in just 15 games this season because of injuries, and his most recent injury came at a time he was “playing more like the Sam that we’ve seen — that was encouraging,” Gordon said.

“It’s going to get taken care of and Sam is going to get himself back into playing shape and play the type of hockey we know that he can play,” Gordon said, “and the type of hockey that’s going to give him success in the NHL.

"The kid's game is about intimidation as far as that presence of 6-foot-7. He's got a mean edge to him when he plays. That part of the game is easy for him. What I was happy about was, his playmaking decisions with the puck in the last three games. That was something you're constantly, as a defenseman, want to get better at."

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 21, 6-1/192, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Lindblom tallied his 13th goal of the season in the Phantoms’ final game before the break Saturday night. Gordon spoke highly of the Swedish winger’s growth throughout his first full season in North America. Gordon noted that Lindblom’s six-game pointless streak to begin the year was mostly bad luck. Lindblom has 29 points in 45 games.

"The thing that's been really impressive is,' Gordon said, "the puck started going in, but how much stuff he started creating on his own. Being in a battle with two guys and coming out with the puck. A puck that looks like it's going to get poked off his stick, he somehow manages to keep it on his stick and then makes the next play from there.

"I knew Oskar from when he was over here two years ago," Gordon said, "but I didn't know how strong he was in his battle, compete level on loose pucks in one-on-one battles. That to me, out of all of our forwards, he's head and shoulders over everybody and as a result, a lot of his offense comes from stuff like that. He makes plays to his linemates that other players might not get the opportunity because they don't even get to start with the puck because they can't compete and battle the way he does."

Quick hits
Felix Sandstrom remains on loan to IK Oskarshamn of the Allsvenskan. He has a .914 save percentage and 2.65 goals-against average in four games with Oskarshamn.

• Phantoms center Mike Vecchione has a three-game goal streak and a four-game point streak. Here is Vecchione’s goal Saturday night that extended his goal streak.

• After his 20-game point streak ended, Sault Ste. Marie’s Morgan Frost has ignited another. He had a seven-point week in three games and has points in his last four games. He leads the OHL plus/minus (51) and is second in points (79) assists (51).

Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph) had a monster game Friday against Flint, registering his first career OHL hat trick and picking up an assist. He’s up to 26 goals in 46 games.

Carter Hart’s 13-game winning streak ended in Everett’s 3-2 shootout loss Saturday night to Seattle. Hart leads the WHL in GAA (1.51) and save percentage (.953).

• Acadie-Bathurst forward German Rubtsov missed two games last week but returned Friday with a goal and an assist. Rubtsov has 23 points in 23 games with the Titan and 34 points in 34 games overall this season.

Pascal Laberge stayed hot last week for Quebec, picking up two assists Saturday and extending his point streak to five games. That streak ended Sunday. He has 10 points in his past 11 games.

• Michigan’s Cooper Marody, who was among the initial Hobey Baker nominees, is pointless in his past four games.

Tanner Laczynski extended his point streak to 10 games last week. He has 15 points during his current streak and is tied for third in the country with 36 points this season.

Samuel Morin's frustrating season continues

ap-samuel-morin-flyers.jpg
AP Images

Samuel Morin's frustrating season continues

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Samuel Morin, D, 22, 6-7/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
It’s been a roller-coaster season for the 2013 first-round pick for many reasons, and the frustration continued last week for Morin. In the third period of the Phantoms’ 5-2 win over Hershey Saturday in the AHL Outdoor Classic, Morin departed with another injury. The injury may have occurred on this poke check, but there was no update postgame.

Morin has appeared in 15 of the Phantoms’ 42 games because of injury and a brief two-game cup of coffee with the Flyers. It appeared Morin played well enough to make the Flyers out of training camp and stayed with the big club on the team’s opening four-game West Coast trip but didn’t play. Then on Oct. 29, the Flyers announced Morin would be called up as a spot opened up, but then discovered he was injured.

We don’t know how long Morin will miss with his most recent injury or if he will miss any time at all. The Phantoms play Wednesday night, but a season like this could harm a young player’s confidence. One, many believe Morin should be with the Flyers, and if you ask him, he’d tell you the same. Add injuries to the mix, and it’s the perfect storm.

Wade Allison, RW, 20, 6-2/205, Western Michigan (NCAA)
Allison’s breakout sophomore season is over. He will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a lower-body injury in the first period of the Broncos’ game on Jan. 13. The 20-year-old was among the initial list of 74 nominees for the Hobey Baker Award. Before the injury, Allison was among the nation’s top scorers with 15 goals and 30 points in 22 games. We’ll see how the injury affects his decision to turn pro next season.

Pascal Laberge, C, 19, 6-1/192, Quebec (QMJHL)
Laberge, another prospect who’s had an up-and-down season, has trended upward over his last nine games with the Remparts, as he becomes more acclimated to his new club. The 19-year-old had two goals and two assists in three games last week for Quebec to extend his point streak to four games and he’s now averaging a point per game over his past nine games. Laberge’s story is one to root for and this season's been another rocky one for him. He’s battled inconsistency, and a trade, which, compared to the past, seem like small potatoes. But he’s on his best nine-game stretch this season, and we'll see if his recent showing will allow him to finish the year strong.

Quick hits
Morgan Frost saw his 20-game point streak end Friday night but picked up an assist in Sault Ste. Marie’s 4-2 loss to Flint. Frost had 45 points during his point streak. 

Philippe Myers registered his third goal of the season and his first since Oct. 28 last Wednesday night in the Phantoms’ 4-1 loss to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

Myers’ first professional season has been met with injuries, but when he’s been on the ice, he’s making progress. He has eight assists and 11 points in 25 games this season.

• How did Carter Hart respond to allowing three goals on Jan. 14 for the first time since Nov. 10? You guessed right. Hart pitched another shutout Saturday night — his sixth of the season — and then extended his winning streak to 12 games Sunday.

Alex Lyon was excellent in net for the Phantoms on Saturday night vs. the Bears, turning aside 41 of 43 shots. He’s been better since returning Dec. 26 to Lehigh Valley.

• Hamilton’s Matthew Strome is enjoying a three-game goal streak. He has 28 goals in 43 games this season.

Future Flyers Report: Honors, shutouts and more for Carter Hart

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Future Flyers Report: Honors, shutouts and more for Carter Hart

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Carter Hart, G, 19, 6-1/177, Everett (WHL)
While nothing is going right for the Flyers at the NHL level, there’s plenty to be optimistic about down on the farm, which many fans don’t want to hear. The hard truth is, the Flyers’ rebuild is bigger than we originally believed and the team can't hide it anymore.

One of the bright spots is Hart, who picked up three honors last week. Hart was named the WHL Goaltender of the Month for November, the WHL Goaltender of the Week and also the CHL Goaltender of the Week. His phenomenal play didn’t go unnoticed.

And Hart continued to be strong in net for the Silvertips last week. Hart stopped 32 of 33 shots Friday in Everett’s 3-1 win over Kamloops, and then pitched his fourth shutout of the season with a 30-save effort in a 3-0 win Saturday over Saskatoon. He’s been so good that even the Saskatoon Twitter account had some fun Saturday night.

All jokes aside, Hart’s numbers are ridiculous. The 19-year-old is tearing up the WHL and words are getting hard to describe it. Hart has won his last five starts and eight of his last nine starts. In his lone loss in his last nine games, he allowed two goals on 50 shots. Hart, in November, had a 1.29 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage. He allowed just 13 goals on the 326 shots he faced in the month.

This season, Hart leads the WHL with a 1.46 GAA, .956 save percentage and four shutouts, and he missed 12 games this season because of mono. Hart already has a CHL Goaltender of the Year award under his belt and probably should have won it again last season. If he keeps this up, it’ll be hard to not give him the award again. If he does get it, he’ll become the first goalie to win the award twice.

Asked about his goaltender prospects last Wednesday, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall told NBC Sports Philadelphia that the Flyers have “a couple kids out in junior and in Europe that we’re very high on but that’s in the distant future.”

You can bet Hart is one of those kids. Hart will be turning 20 in August and he’ll turn pro next season. The safe money is he’ll spend at least one year with the Phantoms, but we could be seeing him in the Flyers’ orange and black in 2019-20, though that is a very early prediction.

College prospects
The Flyers have a trio of collegiate prospects making noise — two in their sophomore campaigns and one in their junior season — and last week was another big week.

Let’s begin with Cooper Marody, who shined with three assists Saturday night for Michigan in an exhibition against the USNTDP U-18 team. The Wolverines won, 7-3.

Tanner Laczynski had a goal and two assists Friday night in No. 11 Ohio State’s 5-5 tie with Penn State. Laczynski was pointless in a 4-0 loss Saturday to the Nittany Lions.

And Wade Allison picked up his 11th goal of the season Friday night in No. 10 Western Michigan’s 4-3 loss to No. 6 North Dakota. Allison has 20 points in 17 games this year.

The three prospects are having huge seasons and rank among the best in the nation. Marody has 21 points, tied with four players for fourth in the country. Marody’s 17 assists are second in the nation. Allison and Laczynski each have 20 points, which are tied with two others for fifth in the country. Allison’s 11 goals are tied for third.

Marody is averaging 1.5 points per game, which is fifth in the country. Laczynski is at 1.25 points per game, while Allison is at 1.18 points per game. All three are in the top 20 in the country in that category. It’s been quite the season for these three players.

Quick hits
• Nothing to see from Sault Ste. Marie’s Morgan Frost last week except for another four-point game. Frost missed Friday because of breaking a team rule, but returned Sunday and recorded a two-point game.

Frost has 14 points in his last six games. He has 29 assists and 42 points in 28 games. He leads the OHL with a plus-29 rating and is sixth in points per game at 1.56.

Danick Martel had one assist in three games last week in Lehigh Valley after the Flyers returned him to the AHL.

• Dynamo St. Petersburg goalie Kirill Ustimenko has started 14 straight games and 23 of the team’s last 24 games. Ustimenko stopped 56 of 60 shots last week.

Ustimenko leads the MHL with five shutouts. In 28 games, Ustimenko has a 1.79 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

• After a four-game pointless skid, Mike Vecchione has assists in back-to-back games. He’s third among AHL rookies with 14 assists and fifth in points with 20.

German Rubtsov picked up his third goal with Acadie-Bathurst on Friday night against Val-d'Or and had a two-assist game Sunday against Moncton. Rubtsov now has 11 points in 10 games since the Titan acquired him from Chicoutimi.

• Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon had one of his steadiest weeks this season, though it did include a blooper goal last Wednesday in a 3-0 loss to Binghamton.

Lyon then backstopped the Phantoms to a 7-2 win Friday over Hershey in the first game he’s allowed fewer than three goals since Nov. 8. (The Flyers last won a game Nov. 9.)

Oskar Lindblom had an assist in the Phantoms’ win Friday over Hershey. He has 13 points in 23 games but appears to be inching closer and closer to breaking out.

• Both Samuel Morin and Philippe Myers are out with injuries as the Phantoms’ blue line is quite banged up. It could be a while for both Morin and Myers to return.

Connor Bunnaman’s seven-game point streak ended Saturday. Bunnaman had an assist Wednesday. During the streak, he had seven assists and 10 points.

Matthew Strome had another solid week for Hamilton. Strome had a pair of helpers in the Bulldogs’ 4-3 win Thursday over Saginaw and then a goal and two assists Sunday in a 4-3 win over Mississauga. He has eight points in his last four games.

• Kelowna’s Carsen Twarynski had another big week but saw a five-game point streak end Saturday night. Twarynski had a hat trick last Wednesday and then a goal and assist Friday night. He had 10 points during his five-game point streak.

• Owen Sound winger Maksim Sushko had a three-goal, four-point week. He has 14 goals and 23 points in 25 games this season.

Wyatt Kalynuk had two assists Friday in No. 14 Wisconsin’s 5-4 loss to No. 7 Minnesota. Kalynuk, a freshman, leads the Badgers with 12 assists.