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Morrissey eyes making Jets after marathon season

by Aaron Vickers / Winnipeg Jets

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Conventional wisdom suggests after a 112-game season, one would fancy a bit of a break.

But Joshua Morrissey is ready for more, and the 19-year-old hopes it's with the Winnipeg Jets.

"I grew a lot as a player [last year] … just feeling comfortable with the pros," said Morrissey, who had triple digits in games on behalf of the Jets (NHL preseason), Prince Albert Raiders (Western Hockey League preseason, regular season and playoffs), Canada's national junior team (World Junior Championship) and the St. John's IceCaps (American Hockey League regular season and playoffs) in 2013-14.

"I'm coming in here now wanting to make the Jets," Morrissey said. "I'm going to do everything I can to do that. A big key for me was to gain strength and size to be able to play the man's game at the next level. I'll never be the biggest guy in the League, but I'm a lot stronger now. That's huge for me.

"I think I'm ready to make that jump."

That process has already started for Morrissey, Winnipeg's first pick (No. 13) in the 2013 NHL Draft.

The defenseman, No. 21 on NHL.com's Top 60 prospect rankings, skated in Canada's summer development camp in August and followed it up with a few spins with Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League. A trio of games wearing a Jets jersey at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton has kept Morrissey busy too.

It's also allowed him to knock off a bit of rust that accumulated over a short summer that saw the Calgary, Alberta native take just 10 days off before jumping back in the gym in preparation.

"I thought I came along," Morrissey said. "It's your first three games of the season. Everybody's a little bit rusty. I've been skating in my junior camp before I came. It's a lot slower paced. It's not at all like what you see out there. I thought each game I had things I think I got better at.

"I wasn't necessarily happy with any of my three games. I thought I did good pieces in each. This week is all about growing and getting ready for the main camp."

And with a better understanding of what to expect in camp, the 6-foot, 191-pound defenseman feels he can have his greatest impact to date.

"My expectations are definitely higher," Morrissey said. "I mean, last year in this [Young Stars] tournament, in the main camp and exhibition games, I had no idea really what to expect. I had never played at that level before. It was pretty tough to put expectations on myself.

"This year, I guess I have my own personal ones that I feel I want to achieve throughout camp here and in the preseason. Overall, I'm just trying to work hard every day and do everything I can for management and coaches to not send me back."

It's what Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba accomplished a year ago, making the jump to the NHL after just one year at the University of Michigan.

That hasn't slipped Morrissey's mind.

"What [Trouba] did was pretty amazing," he said. "For any guy to step in at 19 years old and contribute and do what he was able to do, it is pretty fantastic. I watched him a lot during the year, and we're pretty good friends.

"I want to be able to do the same thing. I want to come in and contribute right away. My goal wouldn't be just to make the team essentially, but to come in and be a contributor and help the team win, and be able to do sort of what [Trouba] was able to do that last year."

And he's poised to do it after his 112-game marathon season last year.

"Last season, I grew a lot as a player," he said. "I was able to gain a lot of weight this summer, close to 10 pounds, and having the experience in St. John's last year, playing 28 games, really helps me out just feeling comfortable up there with the pros.

"I think I was able to prove I can play. I'm coming in here now wanting to make the Jets, and I'm going to do everything I can to do that."

Author: Aaron Vickers | NHL.com Correspondent

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