Flyers

Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- He’s a recent high first-round pick.
 
He’s expected to be an anchor on the Flyers’ blue line for years to come.
 
He has plans on putting up a serious fight for a roster spot with the big club come training camp in the fall.
 
But his name isn’t Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim. His name is Sam Morin, and, while he may not possess a stylish skillset like some of his fellow defensive prospects have, that’s just fine to both the Flyers and Morin, who continues his efficient and effective path to the NHL.
 
The most notable stop on that path so far for the 2013 11th overall pick was Lehigh Valley, where he spent his first professional season with the AHL’s Phantoms.
 
“At the pro level, you have to learn the pro game,” said Morin, who scored four goals and added 15 assists and 118 penalty minutes in 76 games with the Phantoms last season. He was the only Phantom to play in every game on the schedule.
 
“I think I had a pretty good season in Lehigh Valley. I played all the games and played my role — nothing flashy. But I played against the best lines of other teams. I got a couple of good fights in, too. And I’m pretty happy with my season.
 
“The pro level is so much different than junior. It’s not even close. The guys are way stronger. It’s just little things. In the corner, those guys aren’t gliding toward the net. They’re sprinting. They’re just so much more intense, so there’s a big difference. … So that was an adjustment. But I learned from it and I did pretty well after the first 10 games. I was pretty happy about it.”
 
When you’re a high first-round pick like Morin was, big things are expected and they are expected to come sooner rather than later. It just comes with the territory.
 
But, as has been shown in recent years, rushing prospects isn’t the M.O. of this incarnation of the Flyers’ front office. Patience is the name of the game, and those who make the decisions are quite pleased with where Morin, who just turned 21 this past Tuesday, is at in this stage of his development.
 
“Sam had a real good year last year,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. “He was solid defensively. There was a lot of growth in terms of his decision-making. We always talk about guys like Sam being air-tight. He got better.
 
“He had a real good year last year. He developed in consistency and reads and solid defensive play. We like where Sam’s at.”
 
Flyers scouting director Chris Pryor knows the ins and outs of how each prospect in the system plays. He’s also happy with where the powerful big man with smooth skating ability is in his trajectory to the NHL.
 
“He’s still learning the pro game and there’s a big difference between junior and pro,” Pryor told CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio. “For Sam, last year was a [big] step in the right direction from a learning curve standpoint.”
 
At 6-foot-7, 227 pounds, Morin is a towering presence on the blue line. In fact, he’s the tallest player in the Flyers’ organization at any level. Goalie Anthony Stolarz is next in line at 6-foot-6. Right now, Morin would be the tallest player on the big club’s roster by three inches over the 6-foot-4 Steve Mason. The tallest non-goalie with the Flyers is Sean Couturier at 6-foot-3.
 
The fact of the matter is taller players, especially defensemen, usually take longer to develop. Not every one is Chris Pronger. Morin is not blind to this fact and knows what he needs to work on. But his confidence isn’t lacking.
 
“I need time. You don’t find those big guys who can skate like me and I’m pretty tough,” said Morin, who had six fights with the Phantoms last year. “I just need to still play my game. I think I have a lot of skills other people don’t have. I have size and I have toughness. I just have to be patient.
 
“Especially for big guys like me, learning to move their feet, it’s a longer process.”
 
Last week’s development camp was the first time Morin was on the ice in 10 weeks. He had the same abdominal surgery Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere had done. He then missed the first two days of camp with strep throat.
 
But even with the time missed, Morin’s trademark confidence hasn’t waned a bit.
 
“I know I have to wait for my turn," he said. "But when it’s my turn, I’m going to be ready.”