NHL Draft prospects: No. 21 Josh Morrissey

The Winnipeg Jets have signed first-round draft pick Josh Morrissey to a three-year entry-level contract. (WHL Images)
June 9, 2013, 8:36 AM

Intro: Sportsnet.ca is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the National Hockey League draft in New Jersey on June 30.

Our countdown continues with a true student of the game, Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Josh Morrissey.

Stats: Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) | 70 GP | 15 G | 32 A | 47 P | +14 | 91 PIM

Who is Josh Morrissey?
Morrissey’s resume on the ice is just as impressive as it is off of it. He was the most recent recipient of the Canadian Hockey League’s Subway scholastic player of the year award after maintaining a 92.4 per cent average in Grade 12 classes. Morrissey scored the overtime winning goal for Team Pacific in the fifth-place game at the 2012 world under-17 hockey challenge. He captured a gold medal on Canada’s under-18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in August 2012. Morrissey twice represented Canada at the under-18 world championships, winning a bronze in 2012 and a gold medal in 2013. He finished tied for first in tournament defenceman scoring at the April under-18 tournament with seven points in seven games and a plus-10.

Josh Morrissey’s scouting report:
Morrissey is the prototypical offensive dynamo from the back end. He has a great point shot and exceptional poise with the puck on his stick. He’s a solid puck distributor with good vision of the ice and can run a power-play. Although he’s only six-feet and 186 pounds, Morrissey also plays with grit and a confident demeanour. He can catch forwards with their heads down near his blue line and won’t hesitate to deliver a crushing blow. Morrissey’s mobility and offensive ability will be his calling cards for an NHL team come draft day.

Teams who might be interested in Josh Morrissey:
Morrissey could be a fit for several teams. Among those that may be interested are the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks. The Blue Jackets will draft three solid prospects with their multiple first-round picks, and an offensive defenceman who plays with a chippy style should attract general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. The Sharks, meanwhile, may be in the market for defencemen considering an aging core in San Jose. Morrissey could be the natural successor to Dan Boyle in the not-too-distant future.

Scout’s take: “He started the season really well at the Ivan Hlinka; he was arguably one of the better offensive defencemen,” says David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “Morrissey played well throughout the entire year. He’s got a little bit of Morgan Rielly in him. He’s an offensive-minded defenceman who rushes the puck, can make plays, has a good shot, can quarterback the power-play and he had a sensational under-18 world championships.

“Another one of those players that plays with a little bit of a chip on his shoulders. Sometimes, he can goad guys into taking some untimely penalties. He looks a little bit small on the ice, but he’s actually a lot bigger off the ice it seems. He’s got a good skating dynamic. He plays with a little bit of sandpaper and he can pile up the points.”

“A super slick offensive playmaker from the back end, Morrissey is a dangerous player around the puck,” adds Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “He uses great deception skills to create lanes, can use his elite level vision to distribute pucks and has a fantastic shot that he can get off quickly and always seems to place perfectly. He isn’t overly risky but there is some element of risk associated with his game at times. He is exceptional on the PP but needs to improve his five-on-five defensive ability and get stronger physically to continue to be effective at the next level.”

Rankings: Morrissey was ranked 27th by the NHL’s Central Scouting (North American skaters), 18th by McKeen’s Hockey and 21st by International Scouting Services.

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