Oh, how things have changed. Ron Hextall is out as Flyers general manager and Chuck Fletcher is in.
With the change, we're going to focus on a few players who could serve as internal upgrades since Fletcher said he'll evaluate internal options before going the external route.
What do Flyers have in Morin?
Samuel Morin has been practicing with the Flyers but is still seven or eight weeks away from returning from a torn ACL. When we look at Morin's timeline since the Flyers drafted him 11th overall in 2013, the easy conclusion is that Morin was a bad selection. The four-lettered B word comes to mind, but living in hindsight always keeps you on your knees. We don't know what the Flyers have in Morin and neither do the Flyers.
Think about this for a moment. When, or if, Morin laces up his skates as a member of the Flyers full-time, six summers, at least, will have past since the 2013 draft. That number could reach seven if Morin finds himself back in Lehigh Valley once he's cleared. Morin has outlasted two GMs — Paul Holmgren and Hextall — during his time and one of the items on Fletcher's to-do list is to determine if Morin is worth the wait.
Bad luck is a big slice of Morin's story, especially over the last 16 months. Morin initially made the Flyers out of training camp but that was more because the team couldn't decide between him and Travis Sanheim. Ultimately, they chose Sanheim. Then, hip injuries began piling up and he was limited to just 15 regular-season games. He returned for the playoffs but then tore his ACL after three games.
There is a narrative surrounding Morin that does need to be dispelled, that Morin is injury prone. That is not the case if we look at the overall picture. Morin has three professional seasons under his belt and before last season, he had missed just two games — and that was for a suspension, which ended his 125 consecutive games played streak. He was the face of durability during his first two professional seasons. That's important to remember here.
Five years is a long time to wait for a prospect. Defensemen typically take time to develop, especially those of Morin's stature. Zdeno Chara took time and even the 6-foot-8 Tyler Myers took a while to fully reach his potential. It's entirely misguided to give up on Morin before we fully know what he is. I'm not ready to call Morin a bust. I don't know what type of player he is.
Upgrading the bottom six
Another area that Fletcher likely will look to upgrade is the Flyers' bottom six, specifically at center. Hextall believed the Flyers could fill their third-line center vacancy from within, and Mikhail Vorobyev initially made the team with an impressive preseason effort but quickly fell out of favor and was returned to the Phantoms. Vorobyev has nine points in 14 games this season with the Phantoms but is currently injured.
Vorobyev is an option. Another center option the team could take a look at is Mike Vecchione, the former Hobey Baker finalist. Vechionne has 16 points in 24 games this season and is in his second pro year. German Rubtsov would be in the conversation, but his season is over. Internally, those Vorobyev and Vecchione figure to be the lone internal center options.
Fletcher does have options at defense, but considering how young the current blue line is, it's hard to envision Fletcher coming to the conclusion of adding more youth to it. Philippe Myers and Mark Friedman headline the list of internal candidates.
Flyers director of player development Kjell Samuelsson provided insight to both to the Courier-Post's Dave Isaac. Here's what Samuelsson had to say about Myers:
I think right now it’s almost like he’s trying to do too much. He wants to speed up and get the process sped up. He has everything. … That process is going better and better and better.
And about Friedman:
I think he’s come a long way. He’s learned a lot and can defend well. He can skate, like, he can cover up a lot because he can defend with his feet. He uses his stick well and even now he’s up in the offense. He’s mobile on the offensive blue line. … I have to give him a lot of credit. He’s come a long way and done really well. He had a tough year (last season), but he learned from it. His camp here in September was really good here.
If we see either one this season, my money is on Friedman. But I don't envision Fletcher upgrading the defense from within.
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