Samuel Morin said he felt he was meant to be a Flyer.
On Monday, he stayed a Flyer.
The club re-signed Morin to a one-year, $750,000 contract extension. The 6-foot-6 defenseman was set to hit unrestricted free agency, which opens Wednesday at noon ET.
Morin, a 2013 first-round draft pick, played a career-high 20 games last season. He started 2020-21 with a switch to left winger, but eventually moved back to defense and fared well. Injuries, including a pair of torn ACLs, limited him to nine combined games over the previous four seasons.
The 26-year-old Morin is expected to battle with Cam York and other depth candidates for a spot in the Flyers' season-opening lineup. The club's defense has been reshaped with the additions of Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen, along with the trades of Shayne Gostisbehere, Philippe Myers and Robert Hagg.
"The stuff I bring, I don't think a lot of guys bring it in this organization; it's kind of pretty rare now," Morin said in May at his end-of-the-season press conference. "I think I'm probably one of the toughest guys in the league, to be honest. Next year, we're going to play those big boys in the West and I'm kind of ready to prove it. I think I can bring something that no one here can bring. ... I feel I'm a Flyer."
The Flyers last offseason suggested Morin try a position switch. He transitioned to forward and played four games there in 2020-21. As he played with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, he was needed again on defense and the Flyers eventually needed him back there, too. He scored his first NHL goal (a third-period game-winner in a 2-1 decision over the Rangers) and saw 16 games on the back end from late March to the finish of the season. He's back on defense for good.
"When I started playing defense down there with the Phantoms, I was like, 'Man, when I get a full summer of training, I’m going to feel good.' Because it was still a rehab season for me kind of," Morin said. "When you tear your ACL twice, still a little bit of pain in my knee, it takes like a year or two before you feel like 100 percent. I just see myself next year, I think I'm going to be skating even better, like without pain and stuff. I'm going to be buzzing I think. I'll be ready to go."
In November 2019, Morin suffered a torn ACL in his right knee for the second time in a span of 19 months. Staying healthy last season and playing games on defense were big for him.
"What I went through was hell, honestly — it was terrible," Morin said. "That rehab twice, two ACLs, being so close to having a chance to play in the NHL and getting hurt and getting hurt, it's tough. It wasn't fun. At the beginning of the year, I just told myself, just go out there and have fun, just be happy to be part of something again, be part of a team. Obviously we didn't make the playoffs, we didn't play well, we didn't meet the expectations and stuff. But for me personally, just being part of a team again was so huge for me mentally. I just love it, I love the game, I love to play hockey."
The deadline for the Flyers to submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents is today. Carter Hart, Travis Sanheim and Connor Bunnaman are the club's notable RFAs. Per CapFriendly.com, the Flyers currently have around $11.7 million in cap space. The Flyers still need to address their backup goalie situation and they could add a depth forward or defenseman.
"We've made our qualifying offer to Carter," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said last Thursday. "Probably next week, I'll have some preliminary conversations with Carter's representative. There's really no hurry there. We haven't had a lot of conversations yet about the contract, just like we haven't with Sanheim or other people as well. That time of the year is sort of coming. We'll get a feel for what their preferences are, what the price point would be and different term lengths, like you always do, and see what makes sense."
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