The Winnipeg Jets went off the board with their 13th-overall selection in Sunday’s NHL draft when they took defenseman Josh Morrissey.
It was an unexpected pick. Well, sort of.
Morrissey was projected to go in the latter part of the first round. However, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Jets drafted him before his projected spot. They’ve done this before.
The Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is known for going off the board in past drafts. In 2011, Cheveldayoff drafted Mark Scheifele with the seventh-overall pick. Scheifele was projected to go in the mid to latter part of the first round. The Lukas Sutter selection in 2011 was also considered to be another one of Cheveldayoff’s off the board picks.
History repeated itself when Cheveldayoff gambled at yet another Jets draft. However, none of these gambles can be justified right or wrong at the given time. Five years from now we can look back on the decision and judge. Today, we can only look at the player and analyze the talent.
Morrissey is a small, Canadian-born defenseman listed roughly around 6’0”, 185 pounds. He has a left-handed shot, something the Jets needed on the back end. He's not the strongest, but he'll have time to build strength.
Morrissey is an all-around defenseman who excels in many different categories. He’s a great skater, can move the puck with ease, is reliable in his own end and has a lot of offensive upside. His silky smooth skating ability is probably his best tool.
On the other hand, Morrissey has brilliant hockey sense and IQ.
Morrissey is a smart kid both on and off the ice. He was the recipient of the CHL Scholastic Player of the Year Award this past season. The award is an accomplishment that shouldn’t go unnoticed. It also says a lot about the players Cheveldayoff likes to draft.
Morrissey has played in two full seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL. In 2011-12, he played in 68 games and recorded 10 goals and 38 points. He surpassed those totals in the 2012-13 season when he recorded 15 goals and 47 points in 70 games.
Morrissey also played with Team Canada at the 2013 IIHF World U18 Championships where he helped his country win the gold medal.
Morrissey is considered to be an undersized NHL defenseman. The Jets know firsthand that undersized can also mean underestimated. Tobias Enstrom is one of the smallest defenseman in the NHL, but plays like he's one of the biggest.
Besides, Morrissey will have plenty of time to grow and gain strength.
The sky is the limit with Morrissey. No one truly knows just how good the kid can be, but he has all the potential in the world. A lot of Jets fans will want to adopt the Raiders as their favorite WHL team for the next couple of years just to see his growth and potential as a player firsthand.
The Jets filled a major need with this selection in getting another highly-touted defenseman. In a few years we could see Morrissey playing along side another top-prospect of the Jets, Jacob Trouba.
The only downside of Morrissey selection is that he won’t likely be ready until two or three years down the road. That won’t be an issue with the Jets as they’ll patiently wait for his arrival. The bright side to that is he’ll continue to develop his already excellent game which will serve him better in the long run.