Kevin Cheveldayoff did it again. As he did with Mark Scheifele in 2011, he selected a player rated much lower than his draft position at the 2013 National Hockey League entry draft on Sunday.
Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets selected a player who likely won’t play for the team until 2016-17, defenseman Josh Morrissey from the Prince Albert Raiders.
“It’s amazing,” Morrissey told TSN. “Growing up in Calgary, to see a true, passionate hockey city like that (Winnipeg), this is a dream come true.”
A lefthanded-shooting defenseman, Morrissey scored 15 goals and added 32 assists to go with 91 penalty minutes with the Raiders last season. He’s offensive-minded defenseman who skates well, moves the puck quickly, has good hockey sense and a nasty streak. In four years, he should be a good player for the Jets.
According to one NHL scout, “Morrissey, who is just 5-foot-11, 175 pounds and still needs to grow, has great hockey sense and was an important member of the power play in Prince Albert. His offensive instincts are immediately evident and he’s a very accurate passer. He carries the puck with confidence. He is not afraid to make that transition from defense to offense.”
According to the Hockey News, ‘Morrissey is a puck mover who has high competitive instincts and a good ability to read the play.”
The only knock on Morrissey is his size. It’s been said he often gets easily knocked off the puck and doesn’t win enough battles in the corners. He’ll need to get bigger before he plays at the NHL level.
TSN’s draft panel suggested that Morrissey, “should have gone with about the 28th pick. He is a long way from playing in the NHL.” TSN draft expert Craig Button called him “comparable in style to Niklas Kronwall.”
If he turns out to be half as good as Niklas Kronwall, it will be considered a great pick.
Two picks later, the New York Islanders selected Ryan Pulock, the Grandview, Man. product who plays defense for the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Islanders already have Travis Hamonic, an outstanding defenseman from St. Malo, Man., so they certainly have an appreciation for small-town Manitoba D-men.
In the meantime, the Jets have another defensemen stockpiled — they selected Jacob Trouba with the No. 1 pick last year — so they definitely aren’t short of potential on the point.
The Jets have nine more picks in this weekend’s draft. With their first pick, they clearly weren’t concerned about their inability to score.