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Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25: Samuel Morin's slow, steady march to the NHL

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Samuel Morin had a solid first season in the AHL, and after another one of those in 2016-17, we might be talking about an NHL player here in the near future.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it's because the Flyers have drafted so many other strong prospects on defense since 2013, when they selected Samuel Morin with the 11th pick in the NHL Draft. But it does feel like the big 6-foot-7 defender goes a bit overlooked when compared to Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov in the mix prospects with long-term NHL potential.

But is that deserved? Is Samuel Morin, who is about to enter his second professional season, still in the mix to be a big, hulking anchor of the Flyers blueline for years to come?

No. 7: Samuel Morin

Position: D
Age: 21 (7/12/1995)
2015-16 League/Team/Statistics: Lehigh Valley (AHL) - 4 G, 15 A in 76 GP
Nationality: Canadian (Lac-Beauport, QC)
Acquired Via: 2013 NHL Draft -- Round 1, Pick 11

Morin has had an eventful year since we last caught up with him on the summer Top 25 Under 25. After ranking eighth on our list a year ago, Morin settled comfortably into his first professional season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, playing all 76 games with the club. His AHL debut year was quiet yet impressive. He didn't light anything up offensively, scoring just four goals and 15 assists. But that's not his game anyway.

Instead, Morin settled into the role of a top pairing defenseman with the Phantoms, consistently playing against the other team's top competition. He played on the penalty kill and acquitted himself nicely, even with inconsistent offensive performance throughout the year. You could have worse debut years -- particularly for a guy who rolled through juniors like a freight train, bigger and stronger than basically everybody he played against at that level.

That was probably the biggest professional adjustment for Morin: learning to tune his giant frame up into something that can play at a higher, faster, tougher and more difficult level.

Here's a rundown of his year from CSN Philly:

Morin, who turned 21 over the summer, will almost certainly have another full year in Lehigh Valley. He still needs to work on his size utilizing his size to his advantage and he still has work to do to adapt to the faster style and intensity of pro hockey. He'll be a key piece of the puzzle for a Phantoms team that finally wants to be competitive in the AHL again this season, and with the addition of friends like Travis Sanheim on the defense in Lehigh Valley, Morin will finally have some better teammates around him to help shoulder more of the load.

For the most part in 2016-17, it should be another year of steady improvement for Samuel Morin. And if we see that from him -- and hopefully we see a player who is a top pairing defenseman on a very competitive playoff-bound club -- we might be talking about his addition to the defense in Philadelphia a year from now.

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How we voted for Samuel Morin :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
9 8 10 10 8 7 8 12 6 8

How we voted at No. 7 :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
Taylor Leier Travis Sanheim Nick Cousins Jordan Weal German Rubtsov Samuel Morin Anthony Stolarz Nick Cousins Scott Laughton Nick Cousins

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Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25, Summer 2016: