Flyers prospect Ethan Samson is 'full package,' could be late-round hit

Flyers hope they have late-round hit with defenseman who is 'full package' originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Late-round NHL draft picks have to show steady development if they want to put ink on the dotted line.

They tend to be drafted on upside. They're raw, but there's an element of potential if the development curve goes just right.

The Flyers saw upside in Ethan Samson, a lithe, righty-shot defenseman with plenty of room to grow. They selected him in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. His upside recently reached a three-year entry-level contract on New Year's Eve.

"With a right-handed shooting defenseman, he thinks the game, he's got a good shot, he's a good passer," Prince George Cougars general manager and head coach Mark Lamb said Jan. 4 in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "When he's physical, he can play physical. He's kind of the full package.

"Getting a player like that in the sixth round and now he's a signed NHL player, I think it's just a great pick by the Flyers."

James Doyle/Prince George Cougars

With the deal, Samson became the first sixth-round pick of the Flyers to be signed since Olle Lycksell, who was taken in 2017.

A 6-foot-3, 183-pounder, Samson entered Thursday tied for third among WHL defensemen in goals with 12. His 23 assists has him at 35 points through 35 games for Prince George. He has 10 multi-point games and is just nine points away from eclipsing his total of 43 in 68 games last season.

During his one Flyers rookie game in September, Samson made smart decisions under pressure with the puck.

"He's got a lot of strengths in his game," Lamb said. "He's a player that has improved every year. His passing is good, he's a real good skater for a big guy, he's got an incredible shot. He's an all-around player for us and a real offensive catalyst on the power play."

His defensive game in the less-glamorous areas of the ice is the aspect he'll have to work on most when he turns pro.

"This is all players," Lamb said. "He's a real good offensive player, we've got a really good power play and he's kind of the quarterback of it. But away from the puck, playing more physical in the defensive zone is where he can improve."

Lamb played 27 career games for the Flyers over parts of two seasons in Philadelphia during the 90s. Jason Smith, a former Flyers captain (2007-08), was Lamb's associate coach in Prince George for two of Samson's seasons. Smith, now in his second season as an assistant coach with the Flyers' AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, will eventually reunite with Samson.

"He knows Sammy very well," Lamb said. "When Sammy goes to camp, it's some comfort there, that he has a coach that he knows. They do a lot of talking there, also."

Samson doesn't turn 20 years old until August. He'd be able to play one more junior season next year with the Cougars but Lamb doesn't expect him back.

"I think he's ready for the next step," Lamb said.

"He's such a good kid, he's from a good family. What's made him get this contract is the word process. He was so coachable, never complained, just put in the work."

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