Which Flyers defensive prospect will have the greatest impact?

The answer might have less to do with which Philadelphia Flyers prospect has the most talent than which will have the most opportunity.

It’s not a question of if a young Philadelphia Flyers defenseman will garner national attention this upcoming season, but which one. The pipeline of D-men the Flyers have been building for years will finally hit Philadelphia with full force this year. Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg are all likely to spend a decent chunk of the 2017-2018 season in the orange and black, joining Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov to form one of the most formidable young defensive units in the league.

But which of these talented players will make the biggest first impression? For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll eliminate Ghost and Provorov from the running. That leaves the aforementioned Sanheim, Morin, and Hagg, accompanied by the even younger but equally promising Philippe Myers.

Out of that group, it’s a tough call. On pure upside alone, Sanheim would probably be the choice. Sanheim is a well-rounded offensive powerhouse who blew up the WHL, then followed it up with a strong showing with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last year. He’s arguably the Flyers’ best prospect that hasn’t broken into the big leagues, perhaps save for the newly drafted Nolan Patrick.

But Sanheim (and especially Myers) faces longer odds of making the Flyers roster out of training camp. Hagg and Morin are considered the favorites for the last two spots on the Flyers blue line, and my post on suggested defensive pairings reflected that.

With that in mind, I’d guess that Hagg has the strongest rookie season unless Sanheim spends more than 40 games in the NHL. Morin is physically prepared to handle the rigors of NHL hockey, but his mediocre mobility and not-fully-developed offensive game might prevent him from making an immediately noticeable impact. If Morin can play sound, responsible defense, his rookie year will be a success.

Hagg doesn’t have Sanheim’s offensive upside either, but especially towards the end of last year, he’s flashed real two-way ability. As long as Sanheim remains in the minors, Hagg is the best bet out of the Flyers’ defensive prospects to make some noise in his rookie year.