Yesterday Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim Represented Canada in a World Juniors Summer Development Game Against the Czech Republic
By: Matt Bernstein
Topics: Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim, Robby Fabbri, Philadelphia Flyers
Yesterday the Canadian World Juniors development team lost to the Czech Republic World Juniors development team 5-2. This game was especially intriguing for Flyers fans as both Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim, two of their top 4 defensive prospects, were in the lineup for Canada. While in Canada’s previous games neither player was featured for intensive minutes, during this final game of development camp both players played key roles for team Canada.
This game was tough to analyze for a number of reasons. First, it was a game that essentially was dictated by the hit on St. Louis Blues prospect Robby Fabbri early in the third period. YouTube doesn’t have a video up of the hit so take a look at the link below. Also, if you watch until the end of the highlight you will see a pretty cheap punch thrown by Nick Ritchie after the final buzzer..
I want to mention this before I even go into how Morin or Sanheim played because essentially this hit was the only thing most people will remember from this game. Personally, I think the hit was a little high, and the Czech defenseman Baranek definitely made some knee-to-knee contact, but at the same time Fabbri had his head down in the neutral zone and tried to make a lateral move through Baranek’s skates. So, while I don’t think the hit was clean, Fabbri needs to be more aware in the neutral zone even if it is only development camp.
Samuel Morin’s Review
During the game Morin was impressive in certain situations, and I think he even had flashes of dominance in some instances. That being said, I think what most who watched the game will remember about Morin was his lack of discipline. He took a number of penalties before the hit on Fabbri, and after the hit he seemed to be running around looking to take someone’s head off. I can understand standing up for your teammate who got leveled in a development camp game, but the penalties he took prior to the hit and even after he served his first penalty following the hit just screamed lack of composure. A player who is 6″7 like Morin needs to account for his size in physical situations with much more caution. Every hit he throws or physical play along the boards that he makes can be perilous for Morin if he does implement them with discretion, and this lack of discretion was in full effect yesterday afternoon. What makes this especially frustrating is that while Morin can be a dominating physical presence, he is absolutely not limited to a defensive role. Yesterday afternoon Morin was easily the best 1-1 defenseman for Canada and while he did miss a puck along the boards in the third period that led to a two-on-one which resulted in a goal, it can be justified since at that point in the game Canada needed to score and puck possessions was crucial. Also, Morin was surprisingly calm with the puck, made good breakout passes, and was very impressive in transition as well as in the neutral zone. While he was proficient in all of those areas, I think his most notable aspect of his game was his gap control on the rush and his boards play. He rarely allowed a Czech forward to enter the zone as he stepped up at the blueline on most plays. From what I’ve said you may think Morin had a great game, and in fact he did play extremely solid defensively and also threw in an assist, but you simply cannot ignore the penalties taken by Morin throughout the entire game. He has the potential to be a defenseman capable of playing a shut down role while also not being a complete offensive liability, but unless he manages to play with controlled aggression, it will be hard for him to progress quickly and gain significant minutes for Canada’s World Junior team or for the Flyers in the future.
Travis Sanheim’s Review
Sanheim, while he is sizable 6″3, plays more of a two-way game than Morin and that was evident as he played significant powerplay minutes in a game riddled with penalty minutes. Even though Sanheim did play an overall solid game, he was not able to register a point, and he was notably was beat on both of the two-on-ones in which he faced. On the first play he allowed a pass under his stick which resulted in a one-time goal for the Czech’s. On the second goal he tried to take away the pass and David Pastrnak scored on a shot under the crossbar. On both plays Sanheim was unable to deny a scoring chance which definitely did not help his chance at impressing coaches for team Canada. Sanheim also made a few questionable breakout passes that resulted in turnovers and scoring chances. Where Sanheim excelled was in transition and in the offensive zone where he was quick to shoot and find open players with the puck on his stick. In one instance he walked across the blueline and sent a shot/pass to Connor McDavid who was surprised by the pass and missed the possible scoring chance. Overall, Sanheim’s day was plagued by being on the ice for the two goals against. Also, in a game where he did see significant powerplay minutes he was unable to register a point which I think was even more discouraging since this game was filled with man-advantages.
Chances at Making the Final Roster
Samuel Morin probably has the best chance at making the final World Juniors roster for Canada because of his defensive ability and physical presence. He will be able to dominate along the boards, force turnovers, and be extremely physical on skilled opposing players. While my prediction is that he makes the team, if he starts to take too many penalties it would not be unrealistic to see him benched for a more responsible player.
Sanheim will have to have an incredibly impressive start of the year to make the final roster as he is best used on the powerplay or as a two way player on a top line. He doesn’t have the shutdown ability that Morin has and unless he really impresses this year he will find it hard to find a spot on the final team and in order to do that he would have to beat out players like Nurse, Ekblad (if he plays), Morrissey, Morin, Heatherington, Harper, Bowey and Mckeown. His chances don’t look good right now but he still has time to make an impression.