Philadelphia Flyers Defensive Newbies: What should we expect?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Shayne Gostisbehere
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Shayne Gostisbehere /

How will the newer faces of the defense for Philadelphia Flyers fare?

This is the dead time of year for hockey. There isn’t much to talk about except what could be in store for the next season. So over the next two weeks, I am going to go through the new guys we will most likely see on the ice for the Philadelphia Flyers. This week we are going to go through the defense.

Nolan Patrick is going to get most of the hype throughout training camp and preseason, but the young players on defense should have everyone most excited. With Ivan Provorov, Radko Gudas, Shayne Gostisbehere, Andrew MacDonald, and Brandon Manning already on the roster, there will be two spots available.

Manning is most likely going to be a scratch with everyone healthy, so these two spots are going to play important roles with the Philadelphia Flyers. Luckily the farm has the talent to accommodate. Three guys have a realistic shot at taking those two spots out of training camp: Robert Hagg, Samuel Morin, and Travis Sanheim. While another prospect, Philippe Myers, is garnering this type of praise from Bob McKenzie,

I still think the 20 year old needs at least some games with the Phantoms before coming to the big club. So, here is a short breakdown of what the defensive gang could bring to the Philadelphia Flyers come October.

Samuel Morin

Let’s get this out of the way first. In Muhammad Ali’s voice, Samuel Morin is a bad man.

Listed at

6’7″ and 227 lbs

, Morin figures to become an intimidating, stay at home defenseman. As you can see in the clip above, he isn’t afraid to drop his gloves and throw his hands. This isn’t important in the NHL anymore, but guys like

Wayne Simmonds

who bring skill with toughness are the best of both worlds. Though Morin moves the puck well, he isn’t a guy who is going to fill up the stat sheet. Let’s take a look at

The Hockey News scouting report

for him.

"Is a massive defenseman who should eventually fill out to become an intimidating force in the NHL. Moves the puck well, has plenty of shutdown upside and can also drop the gloves. Needs to put all components of his game together, which may take some time. Will need to maximize his physical, shutdown qualities because his offense won’t be elite at the NHL level."

If you read further, they believe he has the upside to become a shutdown defenseman. All of these things considered, I think he will be one of the two young guys to get a spot. It makes too much sense to pair him with an offensive defenseman like Ghost from the get go this season.

Robert Hagg

Robert Hagg is not as large as Samuel Morin standing at 6’2″ and 201 lbs, but he plays a similar defensive-defenseman game. At 22 years old, he already has a calmness about him on the puck that shouldn’t come this early for most defensive prospects. The Hockey News scouting report says Hagg is “a tremendous puck mover with a smooth skating stride. Can play an effective shutdown role, mostly because of an extremely active stick. Can log huge amounts of ice time.”

This could be due to playing two years of professional hockey in his home country of Sweden before coming here for three years in the AHL with the Phantoms.

The above clip is back from 2013 at the World Juniors and even at that point in his career, he was moving at a different speed than the rest of the players on the ice. While both Morin and Hagg aren’t known for the offensive side of their game, Hagg is more of a threat on that end. He is a good skater and can see the ice well.

That calmness I spoke about before got him in trouble in his second year with the Phantoms when he was criticized for his lack of urgency, but Ron Hextall was quoted in an interview late last year saying,

"He’s really taken a step forward this year, the kind of step we were hoping he’d take last year."

If Morin does indeed take the first of two spots, I think the other will be Hagg’s spot to lose. If Provorov and Gudas are the top pairing, a smooth-skating puck mover could slot in on the third pairing next to Andrew MacDonald. (We all know MacDonald will unfortunately be starting.)

Travis Sanheim

At 21, Travis Sanheim is the youngest of the three, but brings a different game to the table. He is a defenseman who can move the puck and contribute on the offensive side of the ice. In 76 games with Lehigh, Sanheim had 37 points including 10 goals.

As you can see from the clip, he has great instincts in the opponent’s zone. From The Hockey News scouting report,

"Can move the puck rather well out of danger, and also contribute greatly on offense. Owns a very projectable frame. Is an asset on the power play. Defends his position well."

He is also a big body, but at 6’4″ 199 lbs, hasn’t filled out the way Hagg and Morin have just yet. What could push him onto the opening day roster is his ability to immediately make an impact on the power play. Sanheim surely has the highest ceiling of the three with his size, skating, and defensive potential.

Since handedness isn’t going to factor in because they are all left-handed shots, I think it will depend on Hexy and Hakstol’s preference. Do they want to bring up two more AHL-seasoned defensive defensemen rather than a greener offensive defenseman? I am assuming a conservative approach with Sanheim being the odd man out for the time being.

Next: We don't deserve Couturier


Morin and Hagg make the cut out of Philadelphia Flyers camp. As much as I would like MacDonald or Manning down with the Phantoms while all three of these guys come up and take their lumps at the Wells Fargo, Hextall has shown restraint even in the tough circumstances of the last two seasons. I think he will trust HIS process and do the same this year.