The draft has come and gone and unbelievably, Holmgren did not make our first pick a center in the mold of Mike Richards. So, while Peirre Mcguire wont have anyone on the Flyers roster that's actively contemplating a restraining order against him , we did fill a glaring need during this draft. Obviously what I mean by this is we now no longer have to worry about left wing, because we drafted Tyrell Goulbourne!
Now that that is out of the way you can all stop crying and realize that we got two very high potential d man with our 2nd and 1st round picks. Just in case you've been living under a rock or have been trying to keep up to Vansteels lifestyle, their names are Samuel Morin from Rimouski and Robert Hägg of MODO. Lets start with Hägg.
Every person I talk to is super excited about this pick, some more so than Morin, and it wouldnt be blasphemy to feel that way. Hägg was a top 15 pick around the time of the WJC when the Flyers were actively scouting him. Rob has played among the men in his country and played heavy minutes in every league he has been in.Scouts have said that he looks far more focused playing among the men in the SHL than he did in junior levels, with far more attention paid to his positioning and smart passes. This bodes well as it seem to show he can elevate his game compared to how he sees his competition. However this can also contribute to his consistency issues. It's said that he doesn't play focused all the time, however this is common in a younger player.
He was named 2013 Super Elit best defenseman by having 24 points in 28 games and playing the other teams best forwards, and helped Sweden to a silver in the WJC. Don't let the 1 point in 27 games fool you, those minutes were most likely on a short leash where the coaches didn't want him taking any risks. Yet, from what I've read, he did very well for an 18 year old playing a mostly pure defensive game. Out of the Flyers crop this year , Robert is the closest to NHL ready with him most likely spending one more year in the SHL to hopefully play big minutes with the ability to play a more offensive game. After that, he will most likely make the switch over to the AHL if not the NHL to get acclimated to the smaller ice surface and need to make smart plays in less time/spacial period. If he hits his top potential, think of him as a larger, physical Kimmo Timmonen. If he hits his middle potential he's probably a more offensive Niklas Kronwall and lowest potential I'd say a meaner and better defensively sound Eric Gustafsson.
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I wrote this blurb for my defunct draft guide back in February
"An above average skater, once in motion you will be hard pressed to see a more fluid skater. His defensive stick work makes him him hard to beat one on one because as soon as you look down to evade his stick, he will step into you with a bone rattling check. Much like a Weeping Angel, he seems like another serene, Swedish Dman until you look away and he's checked you into another time zone. The Flyers have a high chance of him being on the board once it's their pick, as such I would have him go between 18 and 26th. Any team who gets him after that has gotten a steal, especially if it's their second pick."
Robert Hägg 2013 WJC U20 Highlights (via bigwhite06)
From the video you can see hes decent at herding a streaking player to the outside corner and better at using his stick work around the net to trip up an attacking forward and then body them to the wall or off the puck. you can also see the fluidity of his skating to the point it almost seems lackadaisical, however it showed in close he can twist, turn and pirouette his way out of a problem and make a crisp pass up the ice. the only things I'd like him to work on is a better shot from the point, though his wrist shot is deceptive, and finding that extra gear and focus even against what he sees as less competitive teams.
PROJECTION: Top 4 with Top 2 outermost potential,Two-way Dman with the ability to put up between 35-45 points a season
18( turned after draft)
In the beginning of the year, Sam wasn't even ranked by professional scouts even though he was a fairly good shutdown d man in his rookie year. By mid year, he had jumped to 76th and by the time final rankings came out he was ranked 23rd with some scouts having him ranked top 15. That is a huge rise for a 17 year old "shut down" D man. People will point to his goals and assists and say its only 16 points in a season. What they don't realize is that sometimes you cant score if you aren't put in the offensive position to do so (hello Sean Couturier). All year at 17 years old Morin was trusted against the 2nd best competition, the same as Seth Jones. He was also pigeon holed as the shutdown d man in his pairing. While it was small sample size, it's important to notice that in the playoffs he was given a more offensive role and he put up over a point per game. Could that be a flash in the pan? It sure could but it shows that he has the ability to produce points and he can do it under pressure.
Lets take a look at his mechanics shall we?
Samuel Morin 2013 U18 Highlights (via bigwhite06)
He can be a crease clearer and once he puts another 15-30 pounds on he will be a monster at it. A 6'7 230 guy is not going to be pushed off his man and he is just dog like in his pursuit of the puck carrier. On the rush he likes to and does a very good job of using his reach to break of the passing lane while guarding his own, forcing the attacker to go wide and try to go around the net. He then uses his reach again to poke the puck out and pass it up or slow the attacker and take him out of the play in the corner or along the boards. It is very impressive that such a large man makes his large hockey stick seem so small when hes picking pucks off opposing players or out of their skates. He is also very nimble for a 6'7 guy and you can only hope that he will get even better at skating. His slap shot is great but takes far to long, though that is something a young player works on regardless. It looks to me that while he does have a great outlet pass, he seems to sometimes rush that pass without thinking to carry it up. However, this could be due to him being the defensive d man on the pair with Joshua Morrisey, a primarily offensive d-man . His coach may have directed him to play the safe game and let the more experienced puck rusher, who isn't as good at defending, worry about the rush. His wrist shot is powerful but looks to need accuracy. All in all, Morin will be described by any scout with this one word; Raw. He has all the tools to be an elite two way d-man. He just needs time and a little confidence in the evolving offensive skills.
Projecting Morin is far harder than Hägg because of all of Morin's tools that aren't yet honed. absolute top potential? It's played out but we're talking Weber/Chara type player. Many people say Pronger but I just can't in good conscience say that. It would take an unbelievable growth spurt in terms of skill for Morin to reach anywhere close to a Pronger-esque career. It's possible but far less probable than him hitting his outermost potential at this point. plus I don't know if Morins elbows are ready for that kind of wear and tear. His middle potential is that of a better skating and reliable Luke Schenn. If he busts, I'm putting him at pylon level with Hal Gill or any other run of the mill defensive defenseman who will help on a first penalty kill unit. It's high risk/ very high reward type pick.
Potential: Top 4 shutdown defenseman with being that elusive Elite number 1, two way D man as outermost potential, with the ability to put up between 20 and 55 points a season.
Believe it or not the Flyers did an excellent job at the draft this year outside of that third round pick(It's the Flyers, they have to screw up at least one thing). They drafted 2 potential 1st pairing D men who, if they put it together, could be corner stones of the organization for years to come.This coming year will tell us a lot of what we need to know about these prospects, like if Goulborne likes leather or cloth chairs for his seat in the press box. Hell, it could take two years before we figure out if early predictions were even close to the mark. However,for right now, be excited that the Flyers are finally changing philosophy and taking chances with high potential defensive prospects. It's always a good time to be a Flyer's fan, but in a few years it could be quite a bit better.