The Flyers' first-round draft pick of defenseman Samuel Morin from the QMJHL raised eyebrows in some places, as Morin was seemingly towards the bottom of a group of other defensive prospects that were available at the time. (Nikita Zadorov and Ryan Pulock were the other two that most seemed to have in mind at No. 11.)
But since most of us didn't look much into him before the draft, since we were all probably still fixated on Darnell Nurse and Rasmus Ristolainen, let's find as much info on the newest member of the Flyers' defensive prospect pool as we can and put it all here.
He measures in at 6'6 and 203 pounds, with a wingspan of 79 inches. So yes, indeed, he is a tall human being, as you've probably heard.
From the fine folks north of the border at TSN, Craig Button had him ranked as his 13th overall prospect, while noted hockey enthusiast Bob McKenzie placed him at 17th. Here's Button's brief description of him:
Samuel is obvious because of his size but what has become every bit as obvious is his ability to impact the game not only with that size but with an ever-improving skill set. Very good skater with mobility, balance and quickness. He's a very difficult player to break down with speed and he is able to use his skating to put opponents into disadvantageous positions. He reads the play well defensively and makes plays under pressure. He has good puck skills and he moves the puck cleanly and effectively. He will assert physically and has a territorial mindset and as he continues to mature, will have the ability to make it very unpleasant to play against him. Has continued to improve and shows the potential to be that big defenceman who is so coveted in the NHL.
From Hockey Prospectus, Corey Pronman was a bit lower on him and had him ranked as 60th overall in his final rankings, but still had some nice things to say:
Morin had a fine draft season, and while he still needs to work on a few areas of his game, he is progressing in the right direction. His main asset is his physical gifts, as he is 6'6", 200-pounds, while still remaining mobile. That combination is unique, and it makes him a desirable asset. He is pretty coordinated with his feet for such a big man, as he has a technically sound stride, and the ability to move up ice well. He will use his size well to rub off checks and deliver nice hits, although he certainly still has room to fill out. Morin still needs to improve with the puck as he is not an impressive offensive player, with just average puck moving instincts. His decision-making is his main area of concern, as he can lose his man in own end, as well as make the odd bad giveaway. He is raw, and how well his game processing improves will be key to his post-draft progression.
The International Scouting Services folks ranked him No. 32 on their list. Here's their brief writeup on him, featuring a comparable that I've seen thrown around a bit:
Skill: Mobile defenseman with above average offensive upside.
Scouting Report: Morin has played a lot hockey on a number of different stages this year; Regular season and Playoffs in QMJHL, CHL Propect Game, and U18 World Championships in Russia. He has shown steady improvement in all areas of his game since we first noticed this kid in the Quebec Midget League. He has a lot of natural ability and upside. He is still maturing into his two-way style of play... and is still very raw. Morin isn't as physically imposing or dominant as he should be to the outside. Good skater for size but footwork still seems to be biggest weakness defensively. Has pretty good offensive instincts, coupled with solid defensive awareness and physical play. Could be a stud if he puts it all together... a very intriguing prospect.
NHL Potential: 2nd pairing defender who can play special teams.
Style compares to: Tyler Myers
Here's a Q&A he did with Neate Sager of Yahoo's junior hockey blog, Buzzing the Net. As you may have heard yesterday, he's a fan of that Pronger guy.
Elsewhere in the SB Nation network, Scott Reynolds over at Copper and Blue has his list of comparables. Having projected him at No. 25, he essentially summed up his findings as such:
I think it's fair to say that both those who really like Morin and those who are offering caution believe the player has fantastic potential to be a force at the NHL level. The disagreement would seem to be on how likely he is to reach that potential. He doesn't turn 18 until July, so he's got the time on his side, but most guys with his offensive profile who last into the last third of the first round don't seem to improve quickly enough.
From the folks who'd know a thing or two about a French Canadian dude, here's Habs Eyes On the Prize's brief summary on him:
He stands at 6'6", 205 lbs, and uses that size to his advantage, both in terms of a physical presence and in terms of long reach to break up plays. He is a dominant defensive defenseman whose greatest advantage, besides his size, is his fluid skating ability, something which can set him apart from other big men at the highest level.
Morin came into the year as a potential mid-round selection, but has charged up the rankings thanks to a strong showing at the U-18s with Canada - winning a gold medal - and a solid regular season in which he doubled his points, but most of all, an incredible playoff in which he tied for second in team scoring with seven points in six games. Many scouts believe there is untapped offensive potential here, and at that size, Morin could become something special.
The St. Henri, Quebec native is not without flaws, however. While his skating overall is solid, his footwork could use some work, as well as his decision-making. His shot also isn't much of a threat, so he'll never be much of a threat on a powerplay unless he develops that. These are things that can be worked on, however, and considering that he may still have more growing to do, Morin is a player likely to interest all 30 GMs.
Morin should never be mistaken for an offensive defenseman however. His offensive talents are not well developed and if they even exist is questionable. There are occasionial flashes but nothing that suggests he is going to put up a tonne of points at the NHL level. Though some scouts argue that he could become enough of an offensive defenseman to be labelled a two-way defenseman.
What is Samuel Morin in that case? To say he was raw would probably be an understatement but he has a lot of skills that if he can put it all together he could become a solid top four defenseman at the NHL level. He would be the kind of player you'd throw on to protect a lead or to kill an important penalty.
Over at St. Louis Game Time, where they've got the results of the various fitness tests done at the combine, Morin fared pretty well in some of the tests relative to his peers. Click here and here for more.
And finally, saving the best for last, our own Eric T. showed in his prospect work last Saturday that Morin faced a relatively strong group of forwards (second-strongest among his team's defensemen) while playing around 17 minutes a game.
So here's what everyone seems to agree on:
- He's big.
- He can skate well for someone his size.
- He improved a lot this season.
- He can be a good defensive defenseman.
- He's "raw" and has upside.
- He's going to need some time before he's NHL-ready.
Here's what people can't seem to agree on:
- His offensive upside.
- Exactly how good his footwork is.
- How likely he is to reach his potential.
- How great that potential is -- i.e. "second-pairing defenseman" vs. "stud."
It's an interesting pick, for sure, and it's one we'll be following a lot in the next couple years. But for now, Samuel Morin is your new shiny toy on defense. Enjoy.