While speaking to members of the media today, Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher dropped an unexpected tidbit of news: Sam Morin, the 6’7 defenseman, is now playing left wing.
"We think there is a realistic chance he can positively effect our team in that role."— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) December 31, 2020
While speaking to the media on Thursday, Chuck Fletcher has announced that Sam Morin is going to play LW moving forward. pic.twitter.com/nBUfgFUGIn
Yes, you read that correctly. Sam Morin will be converting to forward from his usual role as a defenseman, and will train at LW from now on. The talk of Shayne Gostisbehere moving to wing can finally die, because the Flyers have indeed moved a defenseman to forward, just not the guy you were thinking!
The 25-year-old, about to enter his sixth year in professional hockey, has had a difficult career path thus far, as he has struggled with inconsistency when in the NHL, and with injuries, having only played 11 total games in the NHL and AHL combined between 2018-19 and 2019-20. This is, of course, by no fault of his own, as it is quite difficult to come back from two successive ACL surgeries, and it is completely fair to have then doubted Morin’s chances of establishing himself in the NHL.
However, this positional change could prove to be the turning point for Sam Morin. We are all aware of Morin’s stature (6’7, 203 lbs), and in theory, this sets him up to potentially become a useful power forward and asset on the power-play in front of the net and even more so on the penalty kill. However, Morin isn’t exactly a known offensive dynamo. In nine career NHL games, which in fairness isn’t very telling considering sample size and, well, being a defenseman, he has zero points. In the AHL he has 42 points in 170 games. Yet, as he trains at wing and if he improves his skill set, his size and strength could lend to him becoming an asset at LW.
“I’m fighting for my career. I did all this rehab to continue to play hockey… I’m really excited. I’m really happy to be back with the boys and not in the rehab room.” - Samuel Morin on moving from defense to forward. pic.twitter.com/m4uCWjAvjh— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) December 31, 2020
For Morin and the Flyers, this move is a wild card and a massive project for a 25-year-old who hasn’t established himself in the NHL. With the Flyers’ depth at forward, it is yet to be seen whether Morin could make the team out of camp, or whether AHL games at LW will be needed for him to acclimatize to the position change. At the NHL level, the depth chart at LW reads Claude Giroux, Oskar Lindblom, James van Riemsdyk, and maybe Connor Bunnaman ahead of Morin at the moment. However, I could easily see a situation in which Morin eclipses Bunnaman and takes on the 4LW role.
Only time will tell how this experiment ends, and for Morin and our Flyers, we hope it ends successfully.