Three Flyers rookies - wingers Jason Akeson and Michael Raffl, and towering defenseman Sam Morin - made strong first impressions in the team’s 4-3 shootout loss to Washington on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Morin, 18, is expected to be sent to juniors, but he is trying to make it difficult for the Flyers to make that decision.
Akeson and Raffl, meanwhile, are among the candidates for a roster spot with the Flyers.
Akeson had a goal and an assist Monday, Raffl fired eight shots (three on goal) while playing on the top line with Vinny Lecavalier and Wayne Simmonds, and the 6-foot-6 Morin had nine shots (two on goal), two hits and a gorgeous assist on Lecavalier’s power-play goal.
Craig “Chief” Berube, who coached the Flyers because Peter Laviolette was with the other split-squad team in Toronto, used Akeson for a team-high 7:05 while the Flyers had a man advantage.
Akeson, 23, is just 5-10, 181 pounds, but he plays bigger than his size.
“I thought he did some real nice things on the power play with the puck and had some good chances,” Berube said. “The one thing that jumps out to me is he was physical; he was in the battles and doing all the dirty work.”
Lecavalier liked the speed Raffle brought to his line.
“Raffl’s a smart player on the ice and very easy to find,” Lecavalier said. “He was always available, and a great skater. We connected a few times in the second period and the third as well.”
Raffl, 24, is trying to make a huge jump _ from a low-level Sweden team to the NHL.
“He’ll get better and better,” Berube said. “He put himself in position to score, which is important.”
Lecavalier believes Morin, who was chosen in the first round of the June draft, has a bright future.
“You can tell right away; he’s strong _ sometimes, you see 18 year-olds come in and they’re not ready. Their strength isn’t there,” Lecavalier said. “Obviously he’s going to get bigger. You can tell he’s got a strong stick and he’s solid out there. He’s making great plays, and it’s pretty rare (to see) any NHL defensemen with his size and his toughness and what he can bring to the table. I think he’s going to have a very long career.”
Berube said he was impressed with Morin’s composure with the puck.
“For playing in his first NHL exhibition game, I thought he was tremendous,” he said.
Sean Couturier, 20, who is beginning his third season with the Flyers, has taken Morin under his wing.
“We went to lunch today and I told him to just have fun,” said Couturier after collecting a pair of assists in the game. “He was surprised to be here and I told him to just take it one day at a time. That’s what I did when I was 18 and I stayed around longer than I thought.”
Breakaways. Jake Voracek had a goal and assist and led the Flyers with seven shots on goal….In Toronto, the Flyers scored a 3-2 shootout win over the Leafs. It is believed to be the first time in Flyers history that they played two games on the same night…..The Flyers will host the Rangers on Tuesday; they travel to Lake Placid, N.Y., on Thursday for the start of a four-day bonding camp.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.