Jets Draft: Josh Morrissey at 13th Overall

Josh Morrissey, D, Prince Albert Raiders

  • 6′, 186lbs
  • Left Handed
  • 70GP 15-32-47 (+14)
  • Good-Better-Best Comps: Andrew McDonald – Jonas Brodin – Tobias Enstrom

With 13th overall, the Jets decided to reach again this year, taking offense-first defenceman Josh Morrissey. Kevin Cheveldayoff has shown his desire for mobility on the back end, but given the strong need for impact players in the near future, and the need for young skilled forwards throughout the lineup, the under-developed rearguard has to be considered a strange decision.

Craig Button loves Morrissey’s open ice hitting, and compared him to the stocky two-way defenceman Nik Kronwall. But Nik Kronwall is not 185lbs. Here’s what Pronman has to say:

Pronman on Morrisey:

Morrissey is a dynamic offensive defenseman with a ton of plus skills. He has amassed a considerable number of points for a 1995 birthdate over his last two WHL seasons. His strongest tool is his skating, which is easily high end, if not better. He has a very graceful stride, and his footwork is precise in any direction. His top gear, agility, pivots, and gap control stand out in each game he plays. He is also a top-end puck mover, frequently making aware and accurate passes. He can run the point on a top power play unit, jump into the rush, make a good outlet, and flash a highlight reel play with the puck. His defensive awareness is solid, and he has killed penalties at times. Still, he faces a significant issue in his physicality. I would not describe him as soft, as he can make a quality hit at times, but he often is outmuscled for pucks. Coupling this aspect of his game with his undersized frame makes him a risk at the top level.

Hockey Futures had similar things to say, but give some context to his boxcar stats:

2012-13: Morrissey was the leading scorer amongst defensemen for Prince Albert in his second season as the Raiders finished with a winning record for the first time since 2003-04. He scored 15 goals with 32 assists and was plus-14 with 91 penalty minutes. Prince Albert was second to Saskatoon in the East Division. Morrissey had 1 assist and was minus-three with 9 penalty minutes in the four-game playoff series with Red Deer. He joined Team Canada for the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship and scored 2 goals with 4 assists and was plus-seven in the first four games of the tournament. Morrissey was ranked 11th amongst North American skaters in Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings prior to the 2013 NHL Draft, and 27th in the CSS final rankings.

One thing everyone can agree on is that Morrissey will need more time to develop, likely playing his entire Junior eligibility. He was a former Scholastic Player of the Year, and his hockey sense is considered high level.

A Best case scenario is a player who can control the play with his skating and hockey sense, move the puck effectively, quarterback the powerplay, and put up point at the NHL level. Still, the Jets have a glut of LH defenceman currently at the NHL level – Enstrom, Byfuglien (though he plays right) (EDIT: They gave me beer all day!) Clitsome, Kulda, Stuart, and Trouba. While we won’t know what the team will look like in 2015 or 2016 when Morrissey arrives, he may be in a fight for minutes even should he develop as hoped.

  • Kevin McCartney

    For the record…Morrissey projects to be a better defenseman than Stuart, Clitsome, Kulda, Postma etc…those are all third-pairing guys. Morrissey should develop into a legitimate top-4.

    I truly believe that you can’t draft for immediate need. You have to balance drafting the best player available with building a team “the right way”. Ok, there is no one “right way” to build a team. HOWEVER, I believe that the Jets (along with the Leafs) are following one of the best practises…let’s call it the BlackHawks model:

    Build a strong stable of young defensemen, give them a few years years to develop, even if it means sucking. Then draft your skilled forwards.

    Defensemen take longer to develop, so when drafting long-term, it makes sense to address your blueline first.

  • Kevin McCartney

    This pick was definitely off the board but in the new NHL I can completely understand why the Jets management made this pick. You need defensemen who can contribute and Morrissey has that potential. Brave pick that I think will be ultimately vindicated just like picking Trouba last year, which has proven to be a huge win.

  • Trouba is also RH…

    Jets LHD was:
    Enstrom (28, so only a few more prime years before regression)
    Clitsome (likely peeks as how he is)
    Stuart (terribad, old and whatever)
    Kulda (who knows what’s going on there)
    Melchiori (doubt he goes > than 3rd pair although probably really good 3rd pair)
    Chiarot/Sol: (HA!)

    I love Morrissey.

    Faced the toughest comp on the team (estimated by Eric T over at BSH) and also looking at D who have >0.6 pts/gp in 1st round have 70% chance of being success so definitely better than Zadorov IMO.

    At the time with what was left I wanted either Wennenberg or Mantha for forwards, and Pulock or Morrissey for D.

    Glad I got one of my 4.