Defensemen impressive at camp for Flyers prospects

Defenseman Samuel Morin, the Flyers' top pick, with general manager Paul Holmgren. BRUCE BENNETT / Getty Images
Defenseman Samuel Morin, the Flyers' top pick, with general manager Paul Holmgren. BRUCE BENNETT / Getty Images
Posted: July 13, 2013

For the last three decades, the Flyers have struggled mightily to develop homegrown defensemen.

They have made an attempt to change that. In the last two Junes, the Flyers have drafted defensemen with eight of their 13 picks.

At the top of the list are Sam Morin and Robert Hagg. Morin, a 6-foot-6, 203-pounder, was chosen in the first round (11th overall) last month, while the 6-2, 205-pound Hagg was selected in the second (41st overall). Both were among the players who opened eyes during the Flyers' five-day developmental camp, which ended Thursday in Voorhees.

Thirty players participated in the camp. In a change from past years, there were no scrimmages because the organization wanted to reduce the chance of injuries.

"I think it went well," said Ian Laperriere, the Flyers' director of player development. "My plan this year was different. I wanted to bring more one-on-one work. . . . It would have been easy for me to have four scrimmages this week and throw a puck in the middle, but it wouldn't do anything good for those kids."

Even though Hagg, who turned 18 in February, was selected 30 slots after Morin, some scouts had him rated higher. He has a quicker release on his shot and has played against older competition in Sweden.

Morin, who turns 18 Friday, "moves really well for a big guy," Laperriere said. "It's impressive and he's got a great shot and moves the puck well."

Laperriere called Hagg "a quiet kid who is very smooth, very relaxed on the ice. He doesn't panic with anything. I just can't wait to see those two kids in a real game."

Laperriere cringed when saying he had read Morin being compared to a young Chris Pronger.

"People have to relax a little bit. He's 18 years old . . . and if he does become Chris Pronger-like in the future, we'll be very happy, but he's a long way from that," he said.

Seven defensemen taken in the last two drafts were at camp: Morin, Hagg, Terrance Amorosa, and David Drake from this year's class, and Shayne Gostisbehere, Fredric Larsson, and Reece Willcox from last year's class. (Larsson didn't skate because of a knee injury.)

General manager Paul Holmgren was pleased with the camp.

"This was the first step in the process," Holmgren said. "I was very happy with the level of play and the commitment everybody made."

September camp. The Flyers will have four days of their training camp - starting Sept. 19 - in Lake Placid, N.Y., home of the United States' "Miracle on Ice" victory over Russia in the 1980 Olympics.

The rest of the camp will be at the Wells Fargo Center, because the Skate Zone in Voorhees is undergoing renovations.  

Breakaways. Holmgren said he expected defenseman Andrej Meszaros to be cleared medically in late July. That will give the Flyers a logjam on the blue line. "You never have too much depth back there," the GM said. The Flyers will need to clear salary-cap space before the season starts. They are about $2 million over the $64.3 million cap, but that includes Scott Laughton ($1.1 million), who could begin the season in juniors. Teams can exceed the cap by 10 percent in the summer.

Contact Sam Carchidi

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