One of the big risers in the NHL Numbers consensus rankings was Samuel Morin who moved up from 42nd in the April edition to 25th in June. It's not hard to see why. Craig Button has Morin ranked 13th, describing him as a "very good skater with mobility, balance and quickness." That's an awfully enticing thing when the player you're talking about is also 6'6.25''. In order to emphasize that plus skating, Button goes on to say that "he's a very difficult player to break down with speed and he is able to use his skating to put opponents into disadvantageous positions." Sounds impressive.
Kyle Woodlief's description of Morin, who he has ranked fourth among defensive prospects, is also gushing with enthusiasm:
Samuel Morin is the most intriguing prospect in the bunch, simply because of his massive size (6-6, 203) and upside. He's already mobile for such a humongous man-child and is surprisingly aggressive offensively. Morin is a strong puckhandler who skates with his head up looking to make plays that show vision and creativity. He also plays with a mean edge that is highly appealing for NHL clubs, and you have to wonder how good he'll be in three to four years with some physical maturation.
So why would Corey Pronman have him way down in 60th? Pronman acknowledges the same positives as Button, but offers the following caution: "Morin still needs to improve with the puck as he is not an impressive offensive player, with just average puck moving instincts. His decision-making is his main area of concern, as he can lose his man in own end, as well as make the odd bad giveaway. He is raw, and how well his game processing improves will be key to his post-draft progression."
So what do the numbers say? In this case, a comparable player was someone who played his draft year in the CHL, had an adjusted points per game rate between 0.39 and 0.48 (90% to 110% of Morin's offensive production), and was selected somewhere between 20th and 30th overall. A player with similar goal-scoring is highlighted in blue.
If you're looking at that list wondering who a lot of those players are, don't worry, you're not alone. In the chart below I've listed each player's number of regular season games, his time on ice per game (if the NHL was recording TOI for more than half of the games he played), his points per game, and the first season he played in at least forty games. Players who are at least 6'3'' are highlighted in blue.
So... on the one hand, there's not a lot of good here. On the other hand, Adam Foote is a really good example of the kind of player scouts see Morin potentially becoming: a punishing shut-down defender with enough puck skills to be really effective. It's also worth noting that none of the players listed above have quite the same package of size and skating that Morin is supposed to bring to the table (Brad Miller is the biggest guy here, listed at 6'4''). Then again, this 2001 report from Kyle Woodlief on Jeff Woywitka is sobering:
Woywitka is intriguing because he is the youngest player in the draft.... He plays both ends of the ice with equal aplomb, has good size and toughness, and his offensive game is just beginning to blossom. We believe he's just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential, and has the most room for growth and improvement in his overall game.
I think it's fair to say that both those who really like Morin and those who are offering caution believe the player has fantastic potential to be a force at the NHL level. The disagreement would seem to be on how likely he is to reach that potential. He doesn't turn 18 until July, so he's got the time on his side, but most guys with his offensive profile who last into the last third of the first round don't seem to improve quickly enough.
But what about players with his offensive profile drafted a bit earlier, say, 10th through 19th. Let's take a look.
It's definitely a stronger group overall and there are more players with similar size, but just like the group selected 20-30, there isn't anyone with the same package of raw skills and few who consistently play(ed) top four minutes in the NHL. That brings us back to that one big question: how likely is Morin to reach close to the top of his potential? Based on the data collected here, I think there's enough risk that I'd want to go with the high-end forward options first, but the raw skills described are enough for me to push Morin past the secondary group of forwards whose projections are less rosy.
Next up tomorrow morning: CHL Save Percentage
My Draft List:
1 - Nathan MacKinnon (Comparables)
2 - Jonathan Drouin (Comparables)
3 - Seth Jones (Comparables)
4 - Aleksander Barkov (Comparables)
5 - Elias Lindholm (Comparables)
6 - Valeri Nichushkin (Comparables)
7 - Sean Monahan (Comparables)
8 - Rasmus Ristolainen (Comparables)
9 - Darnell Nurse (Comparables)
10 - Ryan Pulock (Comparables)
11 - Anthony Mantha (Comparables)
12 - Max Domi (Comparables)
13 - Artturi Lehkonen (Comparables)
14 - Alexander Wennberg (Comparables)
15 - Hunter Shinkaruk (Comparables)
16 - Kerby Rychel (Comparables)
17 - Josh Morrissey (Comparables)
18 - Nikita Zadorov (Comparables)
19 - Samuel Morin
20 - Frederik Gauthier (Comparables)
21 - Nicolas Petan (Comparables)
22 - Morgan Klimchuk (Comparables)
23 - Valentin Zykov (Comparables)
24 - Bo Horvat (Comparables)
25 - Adam Erne (Comparables)
26 - Curtis Lazar (Comparables)
27 - Andre Burakowsky (Comparables)
28 - Robert Hagg (Comparables)