MORRISSEY AMID 2013 D-HEAVY WHL DRAFT CLASS

Jan 16, 2013 - 03:06 MST

Written for the CHL by Steven Perko of HockeyProspect.com

Josh Morrissey is proving that his rookie season was not a fluke. 

Despite playing for a team that only won 21 of 72 games last season, the Prince Albert Raiders’ defenceman scored 10 goals and 28 assists in 2011/12 and set a franchise record for points by a 16-year-old blueliner. 

Now, as a 17-year-old, he’s trying to help the Raiders achieve what very few teams have ever done – going from worst to first.  Prince Albert jumped out to a 7-0-0-1 start and they haven’t looked back since.  They currently lead the East Division with a 26-15-0-3 record and sit in 2nd in the Eastern Conference, behind only Edmonton.

A 6th overall pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam draft, Morrissey has already reached 32 points in only 43 games and is 7th in WHL defencemen scoring.  He’s recorded two or more points in nine games so far this season and is representing the Raiders on Team Cherry in Halifax at the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

“Offensively, Morrissey has done a very good job quarterbacking the power play for the Raiders,” said Charles An, a Western Canada-based Scout for HockeyProspect.com.  “He makes decisions quickly and does not try to do too much with the puck.”

Ranked 11th by NHL Central Scouting, Morrissey is one of six WHL defencemen ranked in the top-30 North American Skaters behind Seth Jones (POR) and Ryan Pulock (BDN), at one and six respectively, and listed ahead of Mirco Mueller (EVT) at 12, Shea Theodore (SEA) 17, and Madison Bowey (KEL) at 22.

Last season five WHL defensemen were selected in the top-9 picks of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft led by Ryan Murray chosen second overall by Columbus.

His 12 goals, including three game-winners, is best among defencemen playing in the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.  He finished the weekend on a 3-game goal streak, which included the overtime winner against Red Deer on Saturday night.

However, there are more aspects to his game.  He set a goal in the off-season to get better defensively and improve on his plus/minus, which is currently +16 and 3rd-best on the Raiders.

“Morrissey is a great skater, he shows good agility and quickness,” stated Mark Edwards, Director of Scouting for HockeyProspect.com.   “He has shown the ability to be a good puck mover. He is a dual threat D-Man with the ability to play the power play and also be a solid defender on his side of centre ice. It’s abilities like these that have kept him in our top half of the 1st round.”

Morrissey won a bronze medal with Team Canada at the World Under-18 Championships in April 2012 and then followed that up with a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August.

“He has added an element of physicality in his game this year, particularly the ability to land clean open ice hits in transition,” noted An.  “He has a good active stick and takes away passing and shooting lanes effectively. Going forward he just needs to get stronger along the boards and continue to develop his physical game.”

Morrissey and the rest of the CHL’s top draft eligible prospects and can be seen live across Canada at the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday January 16 at 7:00 pm Eastern / 10:00 pm Pacific on Sportsnet and TVA Sports, and on the NHL Network in the United States.

For more information please visit www.homehardwaretopprospects.ca