NEWARK, N.J. – Not many people can stand next to Chris Pronger and look him in the eye.
Samuel Morin can.
Ever since he was a little kid, Morin hoped he would one day have the opportunity to do just that with his idol.
That opportunity came Sunday when he met Pronger on the biggest day of his life.
Morin, 17, was selected by the Flyers with the No. 11 pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and as he climbed the steps to the stage, there waiting to great him was Pronger – who had done some scouting for the Flyers during the season.
“It was a dream come true,” said Morin, the hulking 6-foot-7 defenseman that skyrocketed up the NHL Draft board. “I play my game like him. I’m a defensive defenseman. I play a mean game. It’s very Flyer-like.”
And the Flyers hope that his game develops over the course of the next few years to become more of a two-way game, as Morin has a lot of developmental upside.
“Last year he would have been a fourth round pick,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “But, he really worked hard on his skating and his footwork and he changed a lot of opinions about him.”
Including that of the Flyers – who had him rated very high on their draft board.
“This makes three years in a row we got the guy we were targeting at our pick,” said Flyers President and COO Peter Luukko. “Our scouts are very excited about this pick and what he can become in a few years.”
International Scouting Services identified his strengths as great size (shocker), denies space to the middle of the ice and having good hands for a big man.
He also is a very competitive kid.
“When you talk to his teammates and they say they don’t like to practice against him, that tells you everything you need to know about him,” Pronger said. “That means he works hard all the time – both in games and in practice and that he has a bit of an edge about him. That’s what we like about him.”
Morin showed steady improvement in all areas playing for Rimouski in the QMJHL and also on the Canadian U-18 World Championship team in Russia.
The Montreal native had great grades all across the scouting board and is viewed as a guy who will develop into a reliable regular on the blue line who will likely see big minutes as a penalty killer.
It should be noted that he is not completely without an offensive game, but that has definitely been the slowest part of his game to develop. Still, many scouts see that as a definite possibility to develop into a top-tier talent.
The ISS scouting report says, “He has pretty good offensive instincts, coupled with solid defensive awareness and physical play. He could be a stud if he puts it all together… a very intriguing prospect.”
Flyers scout Todd Hearty saw him play more than any other member of the Flyers staff, and aside from his size, which impresses everyone, was impressed with his quick development.
“From where he was a year ago to where he was at the start of the year to the middle of the season to the playoffs, he just kept getting better and better,” Hearty said. “Considering that, and the fact that he has two more years of junior hockey before a year in the AHL, we feel he has a lot more room to grow his game. He has a really high ceiling.”
Whether that ceiling is equal to say… Buffalo’s Tyler Myers… or it develops further into a star like Pronger – or Zdeno Chara remains to be seen.
But, at the very least, Morin has the confidence, at such a tender age, in himself to reach those heights, and that has the Flyers giddy.
“He’s going to be so difficult to play against and he skates so well for a guy his size,” Holmgren said. “If he keeps on his current path he’s going to be a good player in this league someday.”
To contact Anthony SanFilippo email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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