Coming up on the end of his Entry Level Contract and no longer exempt from waivers after this season the Flyers have a big decision to make with Sam Morin.
After an injury plagued 2017-18 season, the Flyers would have to go through the qualifying process with the pending Restricted Free Agent defender, given his injury history this season, it’s not like he would command a big money deal or be at risk of an offer sheet. As such, the Flyers are in the driver’s seat with their options.
Given the circumstances, the Flyers should qualify Sam Morin. At worst, he replaces Brandon Manning and is the 7th defender next season. At best, a healthy season and strong camp propel him into the top six and he becomes a steady third pair and penalty killing defensively minded defender.
From Morin’s perspective, signing the Qualifying Offer, is a bet on himself. This season was lost with injuries, so getting a one year, one way deal to bet on himself to have a strong 2018-19 and earn a bigger contract in the summer of 2019.
From the team’s perspective, trading Morin this summer would be selling low and Morin’s better off using the one year deal on the Qualifying Offer to try to get some added value out of him. At worst, the team has a cheap bottom pair/7th defender option already slated for the role to replace the UFA Brandon Manning and waiver claimed Johnny Oduya.
We’ve discussed in the past that Morin might be a late bloomer, but this injury riddled season has certainly derailed that.
This was supposed to the season where Morin, like Robert Hagg has, would step into a starting role with the Flyers and force Brandon Manning out of the top 6. Sadly, due to injury, that hasn’t happened.
Given the limited sample of play in both the AHL and NHL so far, projecting any type of points for Morin next season would be nearly impossible, especially given his undefined role.
However, given the Flyers cap and roster situation, we can likely figure out where Morin will be penciled in for next season.
Current defense when healthy
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Shayne Gostisbehere
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas
Travis Sanheim-Johnny Oduya
Oduya and Manning are both in the final year of contracts, and given Morin’s status, there is no loss to letting them both walk.
This means, that the opening night defense in October will likely look like this
Phil Myers and Mark Friedman would likely be first in line for a call up.
Now, this is a defense that the Flyers would likely employ. In a perfect world, Sanheim-Gudas is the second pair and Hagg-Myers becomes the third pair, but Myers is still exempt from waivers and playing top pair minutes in the AHL will not hurt his game.
Sam Morin would get minutes if Hagg, MacDonald or Gudas were unable to play, while Myers or Friedman could slot in for one of the more offensively minded players.
Will Morin end up as the dominant top pair guy he was drafted to be? Probably not, but that doesn’t make him a failed prospect, it’s an indictment of the process used to draft him. Morin’s ceiling is ever shifting, but this isn’t the time to run away from him, he deserves one healthy season. And given his size, if next season the Flyers see that he isn’t going to be part of the long term plan, he can be traded then, whether for a pick or as part of a bigger package to at least recoup something for him.