Philadelphia Flyers

Biggest Takeaways from Early in Philadelphia Flyers' Preseason

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Chris Vande Velde #76 of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts to the loss as the Washington Capitals celebrate at Wells Fargo Center on September 16, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Garrett BakerSenior Analyst ISeptember 17, 2013

With a few days of training camp and three (sort of) preseason games in the books, the Philadelphia Flyers have had an interesting time so far, culminating in Samuel Morin signing an entry-level deal today.

They played the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night, followed by split-squad exhibition games against the Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals.

On top of those games, there have been some intriguing storylines worth following and discussing even after just a week of action.

A lot of young guys have gotten plenty of playing time thus far, and a few of them have really separated themselves.

One notable absence is Marc-Andre Bourdon, who is still recovering from a concussion. With the Flyers' jam-packed defensive corps and a few younger guys on the way, Bourdon is teetering on the brink of irrelevance.

Speaking of the crowded Flyers defense, they have eight veterans already locked into place along with a ninth, Hal Gill, still trying out for the club.

This afternoon, that group got exponentially more interesting with the announcement (via Anthony SanFilippo of NHL.com) that 2013 first-round pick Samuel Morin had been signed to an entry-level contract.

While it's still very likely that Morin will not play more than the nine allotted NHL games before his contract would officially kick in, it's still telling that the Flyers feel that the 18-year-old is worth keeping around.

He impressed during the summer, bulking up and sticking around Philadelphia to train in the area. He then had a spectacular debut against the Capitals, including a nice assist to Vincent Lecavalier.

With Gill, Morin and other youngsters Brandon Manning, Oliver Lauridsen and Matt Konan lurking, it looks more and more likely that one (or more) of the current defenseman could still be traded.

The forwards group is also looking more and more crowded now, with more than a few new faces stepping up over the past week.

Two spots on the wing are really all that's available right now, and competition is seriously heating up. Last year's first-round pick Scott Laughton has to be the organization's favorite because they invested a lot in him.

He has some great players right behind him, though, and the fact that Laughton is a natural center competing with wingers does not help.

Michael Raffl has come out of nowhere to be a legitimate contender for a starting spot. The Austrian left winger has a ton of talent, and is just one of those late-bloomers who was overlooked until he started excelling with the Austrian national team.  He was being talked up a lot during the first three days of training camp, and had a good game against the Capitals, taking eight shots to solidify his candidacy for the big club.

Tye McGinn had a good opening stretch of the 2013 season before an injury cut his rookie campaign short. He hasn't particularly stood out yet, but he is sort of the incumbent so he has to be strongly considered as well.

The way all three of them have been playing, I think there's a chance they keep all three and make one a healthy scratch to see if a veteran gets hurt early. McGinn and Raffl are both also eligible for the AHL, although Laughton is not.

Another player who can't be ignored is Nick Cousins, who was arguably the Flyers' best player against the Maple Leafs both nights.  He showed why he put up so many points in the OHL last year, with his good quickness, scrappy effort and impressive puck possession and vision.

The 20-year-old center scored a goal on a nice instinctive play in the first game, and showed a lot of confidence and stick skills in the second game.

Cousins should start in the AHL, and really could be a top producer for them while waiting for an injury call-up.

There is a lot that will happen over the next few days, although these initial takeaways hopefully clear things up a little bit. 

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