Sam Morin's Immediate Future with the Flyers is Tantalizing >
 
 

by Michael DeNicola


Monday, October 29th, 2014 --



Regardless what our compromising expectations are for this 2014-15 campaign, there has been one enormously glowing light this preseason: this is, by far, the best group of prospects the Flyers have iced in quite sometime. The emergence of Taylor Leier has been refreshing, to say the least. Scott Laughton has put together a couple solid performances -- strong enough to make me second-guess whether he'll really get his Calder chance centering our third or fourth forward combination. Shayne Gostisbehere's mobility, puckhandling, and overall finesse game from our blueline has each of us drooling all over ourselves. And lastly, but not least, Samuel Morin has been a tall-standing beacon of hope for our future's defensive core.


Chosen 11th Overall in the 2012 Entry Draft by the Paul Holmgren regime, Morin came in a 6'7" package stacked with raw, untapped ability. Said to have the highest of ceilings, the young defenseman, age 19, has already put his stamp on professional competition through his limited preseason experience. Sam spent the last three playing seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League-- one of the three major junior ice hockey leagues which constitute the Canadian Hockey League


Though his points statistics don't reflect it, if you've been watching you would know Morin has played extremely well for the Flyers this September. Yes, it's preseason and the competition is far from complete NHL caliber, but his performance has continually bought him a remaining spot on this roster through roster cuts. He is obviously doing something right, and probably a lot more than just 'something'. Sam has impressed the fanbase and coaching staff, all the while remaining humble and appreciative that he's been given this chance thus far. 



Leading into camp, we expected Morin and the other prospects to get a chance to show their abilities. All of them have received that equal chance; most have been cut, loaned back to the Phantoms, or slid to their respective CHL teams. But only a select few remain.


Once Ron Hextall's promotion to Team GM was finalized, he almost immediately followed it by telling the Flyers faithful how he plans on grooming our prospects on the farm. There was quite a number of us expecting certain prospects like Scott Laughton to crack our roster. But after Hextall shared that sliver of sobering news, blended with his offseason depth additions, it was becoming more and more apparent that this team was going to skate into 2014-15 looking virtually the same it did on its 2013-14 exit. 


That's not necessarily a bad thing. If the long-term success concerns you just as much as the immediate, then you should have felt a sense of relief. After all, it's somewhat new on us to know we have a man in charge with a vision that stretches beyond three or more years. Ron has a goal for this team's structure, and he won't easily be swayed. 


As much as all of that could certainly wind up being the truth, could there also be a tiny exception? Could Hextall's plan for our prospects be bent a little, but not broken? 


In other words, could Samuel Morin, at age 19, actually penetrate this roster for at least the start of this upcoming regular season?


I am not the only one asking this question at this point in time --




Bill Meltzer, Flyers writer for HockeyBuzz.com, shared that thought in a Twitter conversation during Sunday night's Flyers-Devils match. The context of that conversation derives from how poorly this defensive corps has (expectantly) looked through September. Needless to say, Morin was not an active participant in Sunday night's tilt; 33-year old netminder Rob Zepp spent the greater part of that game stopping 40-some Devils shots, and the efforts from our blueline (reportedly) looked anemic. 


To put it frankly... this defense is a fucking tire fire. 



Meltzer mentioned "nine-game trial". What does he mean by this?


If you did not know already, players selected in the Draft from the CHL have a maximum allowance of playing nine regular season games with their NHL Club at the start of season. Once that tenth game is played, Year 1 of their entry-level contract is burned and the clock starts. By the ninth allowed game, the NHL Club has the option to slide this player back to world juniors, salvaging all three League Years on his ELC. [Re: Couturier, 2011]


Here's a more detailed definition provided by CapGeek.com --


"If a player aged 18 or 19 signs an entry-level contract with a club (with his age calculated on Sept. 15 of the year he signed the contract) but does not play in at least 10 NHL games — regular season or playoffs — the contract will "slide" or be extended one year. The extension does not apply if the player turns 20 between Sept. 16 and Dec. 31 in the year he signed the contract.


"Depending on the contract's structure, the player's cap hit can be affected either by an increase or a decrease. Players who sign at age 18 can have their contract extended (or "slide") two seasons."



Sam turned 19-years old this past July 12th, and does not turn 20, obviously, until July 2015. And since the Flyers slid his contract last preseason, Morin is a candidate for sliding once more. If the Flyers do decide to slide Morin back to the QMJHL, this would be the second and final time they'd get to do so. 


The Flyers can decide to slide Morin at anytime between now and before his tenth regular season game to salvage Year 1 on his entry-level contract. 



You might be asking, "Why not just loan him to the Phantoms? He has no more developing to do at the junior stage. So let's give him a chance to grow against some real professional competition in the AHL."


Fair argument in theory, but a useless one at that. 


Simply put, Morin is not allowed to report to Lehigh Valley for the Phantoms' 2014-15 season. He is only allowed to either skate as a Philadelphia Flyer or a l'Océanic de Rimouski, his current QMJHL team.


I defer to the Bruins blog, Stanley Cup of Chowder, for explanation --


There is an agreement in place between the NHL and the CHL (Canadian Hockey League, the overarching organization beneath which stand the OHL, the WHL, and the QMJHL) which exists primarily to protect the CHL. The rule is as follows: 


Players drafted and playing for CHL teams are ineligible to play in the professional minor leagues (AHL, ECHL) until they are 20 years old (by December 31st of that year) or have completed four years in major juniors. A perfect example of this is Jared Knight, this year. Knight won't turn 20 until January 16, 2012. He's already completed two years in juniors, playing his third in London this season. If things continue along their course, and Knight does not make the NHL Bruins for the 2011-2012 season, he'll have to play that year in London as well, and will be eligible for AHL play in 2012-2013. Barring CHL involvement, players have to be 18 by September 15 to be eligible for the AHL at all.



So it's either Morin becomes an NHLer this season, or becomes a professional hockey player next season. No Phantoms, no Royals, not this year. 


Which leads me back to our tantalizing question; does Sam get his nine-game trial with the Flyers? Never mind what lies ahead of that sampling for him. If Sam does wind up dressed in a Flyers sweater on October 8th through the 28th (nine games), our front office will have enough of an idea on what he has to offer our Club now.


At age 19, it's difficult to believe he has ZERO developing left to do at the major junior level. And if there's more juice he could squeeze from the QMJHL, you'd automatically assume that the NHL stage is too big a leap for him, right? But his preseason performance -- particularly the way he has matched up, one on one, with his NHL competition -- serves as a contradicting X Factor. With the existence of that factor, I firmly believe its legitimacy is enough to buy him a nine-game trial. Especially considering what we already know we have on defense. 



Giving Morin his nine-game trial is all well and good. But no one can dismiss the League's heavily enforced salary cap. At the moment, without the existence of Morin's AAV on our books, the Flyers are already over the ceiling by $4,936,429 with a roster size of 24 players. But that's okay... the Flyers could simply LTIR Pronger on the final day of camp, and we'd squeeze into the schedule just under the threshold by $5,000.00. And once Day 1 of the season concluded, LTIRing Kimmo Timonen would give us an additional $2M in relief. But by that time, we couldn't recall Samuel Morin because NHL teams are unable to recall players from their CHL programs (unless it's an emergency situation).


The Flyers can't roll with Morin at the beginning of the season without burying a contract in the AHL. 


With the grand assistance from my friend John (@jsaquella), using a tool provided by CapGeek, he managed to field a cap compliant Flyers team for Opening Night by LTIRing Chris Pronger and Ryan White on the final day of camp, and receiving $900K in space by burying Nick Schultz on the Phantoms. Check it out ---










www.capgeek.com




There's your 23-man compliant roster with an additional ~$11K in spare space. Once Opening Night concludes, Timonen can be placed on LTIR where the Flyers have the ability to maximize his $2 million in relief given to us. In the coming days, if the Flyers decide to slide Sam Morin, Schultz can be recalled from the Phantoms and we go about our season accordingly. Meanwhile, we've given Morin perspective and a concept to work off of while he transitions back to junior. He's given us a taste of what he's got, and there is no better test than our October schedule


I see this as a win-win situation for all. We're not rushing a prospect as much as we are taking advantage of a channel given to us. The worst that could happen is that Morin performs poorly, and Hextall slides him back to the QMJHL ahead of the maximum nine-games. The best that could happen?


Well, I'll leave that for you to think about.



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