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Josh Morrissey: 2013 NHL Draft Player Profile #15

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2013 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical draft profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2013 Draft Articles Click here.

TopShelfProspectsEdit: Drafted 13th Overall by the Winnipeg Jets.

As the season opened, Josh Morrissey wasn’t on many scouts radar as a potential 2013 1st round pick.  Sure he was seen as a nice prospect, and someone who could be grabbed in the 2nd, 3rd and possibly even 4th round, but he wasn’t seen as amongst the best players in this draft class.  Morrissey went about changing perceptions right away with a breakout start  in September and October where he scored points and turned heads.  He carried on his production and improved play throughout the year, leading to a real breakout performance that now has Morrissey ranked in the top 15 on our draft board.

Morrissey is currently playing in a top pairing defence role for Team Canada at the 2013 IIHF Under 18 World Championships, and his 6 points in 4 games have helped Canada to a 4-0 record and first place in their pool.  Morrissey won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka tournament, a bronze at the 2012 Under 18s, and was a member of Team Pacific at the 2012 U17 challenge.  He has a ton of experience in high pressure games at the international level and this can only help him going forward.

Born — Calgary, ALTA
Height 6.00 — Weight 175 — Shoots Left
February Rank 13

The key to Morrissey’s games is his outstanding skating ability. He joins fellow WHL defence prospect Ryan Pulock, as being amongst the best skating defencemen in this draft class. His stride is fluid, and he has excellent top speed both backwards and forward. His first step is quick, and he accelerates quickly helping him to reach that top speed in just a few steps. His agility, edgework, and pivots are very strong and fluid, giving him excellent mobility, and allowing him to cover a lot of ice, whether it be opening up passing and shooting lanes in the offensive zone, skating the puck out of his own zone and through neutral ice, or covering up defensively against the rush or the cycle.

Morrissey is very slick offensively.  He combines very good stickhandling with his great skating to carry the puck through the neutral zone and lead the rush at times for Prince Albert.  If not leading the rush, he can effectively join the play as a trailer, and has good instincts for jumping up on the rush.  He also has great vision, and pin point passing skills both in starting the rush with a first pass, or in quarterbacking the play in the offensive zone.  Morrissey has a decent slap shot, but its not an absolute rocket like Pulock or Jones.  Instead he knows how to keep his shot low and on net.  He does have a really good wrist shot, and an excellent release.  His hockey sense is top notch, and he almost always makes the right decision in the offensive zone.  Morrissey has all the tools to be a high level offensive contributor from the blue line.

In his own zone, Morrissey just keeps improving.  He plays an effective positional game, always keeping the opponent in front of him, and doing a good job to take away time and space.  He doesn’t run around looking for hits, but has shown that when the opportunity presents itself he can be extremely physical, and throw a big check.  However most of the time Morrissey is content not to gamble.  Instead he plays smart positional defence and cuts off passing and shooting lanes, eventually forcing his opponent into a turnover, and quickly transitioning to offence.  Morrissey could use more upper body strength however, and some time in the weight room will help him to win more one on one battles along the boards and in front of the net.

Styllistically, Morrissey compares to Alex Edler of the Vancouver Canucks.  While these are styllistic comparisons and not meant to be an assessment of potential, in the case of Morrissey/Edler, the potential side of the equation fits as well.  Morrissey can be a top pairing defender who can play big minutes and be used in all situations, be it PK or PP work.

Check back tomorrow for our number 16 prospect.

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