RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com
NASHVILLE – Etienne Morin needs no introduction to life in the Flames pipeline.
He’s already been given the rundown from two of the key figures within.
“(Jakob Pelletier) played in Moncton and he texted me after the season,” said Morin, Calgary’s second-round pick – 48th overall – in the NHL Draft. “Our GM back in Moncton said he was always a gentleman and he’s really a great guy. I can see that he is one.
“He congratulated me on the season and before the draft, he texted me again and said good luck with whatever happens – that it’s just a pick and whatever happens on the ice, happens on the ice.
“I can’t wait to see him and know him better.”
Turns out, the roots run even deeper.
A lot deeper.
Morin grew up in the same hometown – Valleyfield, Que. – as fellow Flames prospect Jeremie Poirier, and the two continue to train together in the off-season.
It’s a relationship that traces back more than a decade.
“I played with his brother, so it was in Atom,” Morin said. “I was practicing with him a little bit and I remember how good he was. I know his brother a lot more, but I can’t wait to know him more, for sure.”
It won’t be long, now, before the two forge a brotherly bond as two of the organization’s top prospects.
Like Poirier, Morin is a transitional defenceman with a flair for the offence. He skates well and moves the puck with authority, and is primarily known for his goal-scoring touch. He finished the 2022-23 season with the most goals among all QMJHL blueliners (21) as part of an impressive 72-point campaign. He more than doubled his point total from the previous year, before adding another 17 points (2G, 15A) in 12 playoff games.
In the modern-day game, which puts a premium on offence from the backend, Morin is exactly the type of player GMs covet.
“Obviously, I’m more offensive right now, but I want to work on my defensive (game),” he said. “I’m a very smart player, very cerebral. My strongest asset is my hockey IQ and how calm I am with the puck.
“And I have a great wrister.”
There was no mistaking the confidence in Morin’s voice when he spoke in a hectic media centre at Bridgestone Arena. Ranked 19th among North American skaters, he knew it was only a matter of time before he would hear his name called. That typically doesn’t lessen the stress of draft day (or days, plural, in the case of the second- to seventh-rounders), but in Morin’s case, he was truly in a relaxed state, soaking in the moment.
“I’m very cerebral and I don’t stress at all,” he smiled. “I didn’t expect to go in the first round, and whether I was going in the first or seventh round, I would’ve been happy.”
Morin and the Flames, though, seemed destined to go together.
From the moment he walked in the rink on Thursday morning, he had a sense it could play out this way.
“We started the second round and I was like, ‘Oh, Calgary has 48.’ And they only drafted one guy before me, and I know him (Samuel Honzek), too,” Morin said. “So, I thought, ‘Oh, maybe it could happen.’ My parents looked at me and said, ‘Eh, I’m not too sure.’ And then, to hear my name – I was really excited about it.
“I know it’s an electric city. Great city, great rink, and I’ve already visited Calgary before, so I can’t wait to start.”
Morin, who looks up to fellow Quebecor Marc-Edouard Vlasic, is already looking ahead to training camp in the fall. It’s an entire off-season away, still, but you can’t blame a guy for charting his next steps.
After all, draft day is just the first of many steps along the way.
But the comfort of that Flames jersey hugging him tight seemed to inspire an even greater jolt of confidence.
As it should.
“I want to have the best camp I can,” he said. “My goal is to go in and have the mentality that I can make the team. Right now, I’m still really young, but I’ll go in and put all the chances on my side and if I don’t make it, I’ll have a great year in Moncton and come back more ready than ever for next year.”