The 6′ tall, dynamic puck-moving defender Joshua Morrissey is unlike most junior graduates. Morrissey already has 28 games, over a quarter of a season, of AHL experience. He also played exceptionally well in a non-sheltered role while called up for the team.
We continue our summer prospect profile series, checking in at #4.
Here is Morrissey’s Player Cohort Success over the since his pre-draft eligible season:
PCS% is the percentage of similar players in height, league, scoring, and age that made the NHL, while PCS points per game is the production typical of those that did make it.
Morrissey was an exceptional offensive producer in the WHL from the start. In his 16 and 17-year-old seasons, Morrissey produced 38 and 47 points for a middling-to-poor Prince Albert Raiders.
Morrissey put up a decent PCS, although by the numbers there were better options at 13th overall available (note: link uses older PCS numbers, unadjusted for era scoring rate differences).
The next season though Morrissey displayed why the Winnipeg Jets wanted the young blue as their first pick in 2013. Morrissey nearly put up as many assists as he put up points the season prior, while also nearly doubling his goal output.
Not only did Morrissey have an excellent year in the WHL as an 18-year-old, but after being eliminated Morrissey moved up the AHL and played 28 games for the St. John’s IceCaps. Morrissey played a regular role against men on a team that made it to the AHL finals, something PCS liked almost as much as Morrissey’s exceptional production in the WHL that season.
The feeling was that Morrissey had the skill but not the strength to play in the NHL the next season. Too good for junior but not good enough for the AHL was the meme for the left-shooting defenseman. To try and counteract, Morrissey tried to gain as much weight over the summer as possible, and with a shortened summer due to his AHL playoff run.
Morrissey came in to camp much heavier, but lost the speed and conditioning that made Morrissey so effective. He was noticeably slower, and ultimately Morrissey went back to junior to a weakened Raiders.
Morrissey struggled at the start in junior, but over time got back into rhythm. Morrissey was traded to Memorial Cup contending Kelowna Rockets, in a blockbuster that also sent over teammate Leon Draisaitl to the Rockets. Morrissey scored nearly at a point per game pace, despite playing on the Rockets second pair and second power play unit — the Rockets were spreading out skill with splitting Madison Bowey and Morrissey.
Morrissey was the highlight of the Jets developmental camp and looked to be at peak physical condition.
The young defender is an exceptionally adept puck mover. While some puck movers –like Madison Bowey, Darnel Nurse– push the play at full speed, Morrissey prefers to distribute the puck in breakouts similar to how a Quarterback moves the play forward in American football.
It would not be surprising if Morrissey made the Jets, with his skill being much needed on the Jets left side. However, a total of nine one-way contracts, plus Jacob Trouba, on the Winnipeg Jets roster makes the NHL level a high hurdle to clear.
If Morrissey ends up in the AHL, Morrissey will be part of a very young defensive core with the Moose and will be leaned on heavily with his prior experience.
Here are some highlights of Morrissey in the WHL playoffs last season where he scored 5 points, courtesy of Jets Nations’ own Anthony Lenting: