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Flyers select D Samuel Morin with 11th pick
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NEWARK, N.J. – Never mind the uncertainty about when he would be selected or which team would draft him. Forget the fact that he was up on stage in front of 30 of his closest friends and family – and the thousands of fans who packed the Prudential Center.

Samuel Morin, the 17-year-old defenseman whom the Flyers selected with their 11th overall pick in Sunday’s 2013 draft, was most anxious and excited to meet Chris Pronger, the player he grew up idolizing (see story).

“I just said hi,” he said, blushing. “I didn’t know what to say! I just said hi.”

Even with players still available that they’d previously expressed interest in (Ryan Pulock, for one), the Flyers elected to draft the 6-foot-6 and 202-pound Morin, a stay-at-home defenseman known for having impressive reach and good skating skills despite his large size.

It was a pick that came as a surprise to everyone but Morin himself, who is from a small town outside Quebec City. His agent had alerted him to the fact that the Flyers were keen on him and liked the idea of drafting him early, despite the fact that he was ranked 23rd in the final Central Scouting report.

But Morin is very much a Flyers-type player. He’s big, he’s mean, he’s physical and he isn’t afraid to fight (he had 117 penalty minutes in 46 games playing for Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL last year).

Sounds a bit like that aforementioned Flyers defenseman whom he grew up admiring, doesn’t it?

“Yeah, yeah, like Chris Pronger,” he said. “But I am Samuel Morin. I will play my game.”

Morin’s game doesn’t exactly fit the bill of the Flyers’ specific needs right now. Though he’s working on his offensive upside, he’s far from a power-play quarterback. That’s OK – he’s likely a few seasons away from playing with the big club. Defensemen take time to develop.

“I’m more a defensive defenseman,” he said. “But the second half of this season, I had a lot more offensive upside. I got an injury (he broke his collarbone in January), but I came back and had seven points in six games [in the playoffs]. I’ve got a very hard shot. I’m tough. I can fight anyone. It’s that.”

What the Flyers were most drawn to about him, though, Pronger – here as part of the Flyers’ draft team – had to demonstrate with his hands.

“How he’s been trending,” Pronger said, taking his hand and mimicking a plane during takeoff, “intrigued a lot of the scouts.”

There are some who worry that Pulock, the WHL defenseman who was ranked 12th and picked 15th, has already peaked. The way the Flyers see it, the manner in which Morin returned from his injury, as well as how he stood out during Canada’s U18 IIHF World Championship victory, prove he certainly hasn’t.

Morin will attend the Flyers’ prospect camp later this summer, and will likely get an invitation to training camp as the season approaches. He’s far from a lock to make the team’s opening-day roster, but he isn’t at all discouraged by the odds being stacked against him.

“I think I’m ready to compete at the game,” he said. “I will do everything to make the team for sure. We will see. I don’t mind to spend next season in the [QMJHL], but at the camp, I will compete and do everything for making the team.”

He added, “I’m not going to the camp just to watch the others skating. I want to make the team.”

There are definitely some things he has to work on before he does, however, in addition to adding another 20 or so pounds to his frame.

“As a big man, he’s got to continue to work on his feet, his quickness, mobility,” Pronger said. “As a big man, you can never be quick enough, trying to catch all the little waterbugs running around out there.

“I think recognizing that quick first pass, puck skills, handling the puck. Those are all things young kids need to work on, especially when you’re that big and playing with an edge.”

Morin has never been to Philadelphia. His knowledge of the city is limited to a vague understanding of its history, admiration of Bobby Clarke and the fact that he looks a lot like Ivan Drago from the movie “Rocky.”

That said, he can already tell the city is a place he’ll fit in.

“I think it’s the perfect match,” Morin said. “I’m tough, and they like tough guys.”