With a renewed emphasis on dynamic offensive talent on the blueline in the modern NHL, Josh Morrissey of the Prince Albert Raiders will be a tough player to pass up for many teams.
Morrissey, a 5-foot-11, 182 pound defender who shoots from the left side, had a very productive 2012-13. In 70 games for the Raiders, he was an offensive catalyst from the blueline, recording 15 goals and 47 points. He was also a star for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament and the World U18 championships, recording eight points in five games and seven points in seven games respectively. He earned a gold medal at both tournaments.
Morrissey’s biggest asset comes from his offensive game. He is a very fluid skater who possesses good offensive instincts and tools. He moves the puck around effectively and can put pucks on net. His awareness is good all over the ice and he plays bigger than his size, engaging opponents physically.
While Morrissey does play bigger than his measurements may lend themselves to, that willingness to engage physically underscores the main weak point of his game: his strength. Until he develops a strength level that will allow him to compete physically with big, tough NHL forwards, it’s unlikely that he will be able to contribute consistently at a meaningful level. His defensive positioning could also stand to improve at the next level.
As far as offensive defencemen in the 2013 Entry Draft go, very few -- if any -- come with more ability than Morrissey does. He is a slick player with a good edge to his game that should evolve into a quality NHL defenceman for years to come. While the offensive skills are currently more of an asset than the defensive ones, development of the latter could round Morrissey into a top pairing talent.
Expect Morrissey to come off the board in the middle of round one.
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