It has been all about steady growth for hulking defenceman Samuel Morin across two seasons with the Rimouski Océanic.
The 6-foot-6¼, 202-pound rearguard stands out for obvious reasons, but steadily improved his agility and footwork in order to better contain and constrict opposing forwards during his sophomore season. While still a work in a progress, as is usually the case with an exceptionally tall teenager, Morin moved up from 76th in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking to 23rd in its final evaluation. The upcoming draft is hardly bereft of big, punishing D-men such as London Knights' Nikita Zadorov or the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds' Darnell Nurse. Morin could fill that niche for a team picking later.
Morin, along with Océanic mates Philippe Desrosiers and Frédérik Gauthier, capped off his season by helping Canada win the world under-18 championship in April. Buoyed by that accomplishment, the St-Henri, Que., native is hopeful he will further emerge as a leader and all-around defenceman, in the Chris Pronger mould.
"That was a great experience," Morin says." We [Team Canada] had a solid team with a lot of talent and just needed to each play our role. We're going to try to teach that to the younger kids in Rimouski next year. Winning a gold medal, that's the best win I have in my career. It's a hard tournament to win. We don't have the best players in Canada. It's the most talented team who wins a tournament, it's the hard-working team which wins."
Morin had four goals, 16 points and 117 penalty minutes over 46 regular-season games with Rimouski. By his evaluation, he struggled early in the season but righted himself and became one of four Océanic selected for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January. There were hints of offensive upside, as he earned power-play time in Rimouski, plus he also showed improved mobility when he helped Canada win on the larger international ice surface at the U18s in Sochi, russia.
"I like to use my shot a lot on the power play, I probably have the best shot on our team," he says. "I think in the future, I will be better."
"I definitely got used to the big ice quickly," he adds in reference to playing overseas this spring. "In my league, in Chicoutimi, they have the big ice so I've played on it a lot. You have more time to make a good crisp first pass."
Morin is very much a wait-and-see pick, but his tools are self-explanatory.
1. Which NHL player(s) do you watch since he, or they, have a style which resembles what you aspire to do in the league someday?
"Chris Pronger, when he was playing. Very tough guy, very mean guy. Power-play force, very good shot. A leader and a complete player."
2. Toughest forward to go up against in the Q?
"For sure, it's Nathan MacKinnon. Great skater, quick release, good shot.
"[Jonathan] Drouin was also tough to go up against, especially during the under-18 tryouts [in August 2012]."
3. What teammate has helped you the most with the Océanic?
"Probably [Océanic goalie] Philippe Desrosiers. He gives me a lot of advice and he really challenges us in the practice. Whenever I score on Philippe, it makes him really mad and when he stops me, I get mad."
4. How do you believe your confidence benefited from being part of a league finalist as a 16-year-old (when Rimouski lost the QMJHL final to Saint John in 2012). Or did it help in some other way?
"Not my confidence, but it was more about taking the experience. I like playing in those stress situations. The final against Saint John, there was a lot of extra media, a lot of extra people, it's good to experience that."
5. Favourite rink to go into as a visiting player?
"I'm from Quebec City, so Quebec City [Colisée Pepsi]. I have a lot of family there, maybe I have 40 people out sometimes when I play there."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.