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Entering the 2012/2013 season with little fanfare in Prince Ablert, Josh Morrissey has played his way into most publications’ top 30 and is one of the most steady risers so far in this year’s class. A strong start to the season with 14 pts in 16 games will only improve Morrissey’s stock and should see him picked in the top 15 players in June. He is currently ranked #22 by International Scouting Services, #8 by TSN’s Craig Button, #7 here at BRCS and was given “A” player status by NHL Central Scouting Services.
Morrissey’s games revolves around his incredible skating and mobility, which is among the best for any defenceman in the 2013 draft class. He’s relied upon heavily in Prince Albert to carry the puck through the neutral zone and gain the offensive line, which he does with relative ease. His excellent vision and superb creativity also makes him an effect quarterback on the powerplay where he has shown a knack for one-touch passes and cross-seam plays which often set up his teammates for open one-time shots. His shot from the point, while not overpowering, is accurate and often creates rebounds. His elite mobility allows him to elude penalty killers and find open shooting lanes consistently.
Josh is always eager to jump into the rush and become involved offensively. It’s not unusual to see him sneak down from his point position or carry the puck into the zone down low. He can sometimes be over aggressive with this pinches and interception attempts through the neutral zone which can lead to odd man rushes the other way, so he will need to learn to better identify when to be aggressive and when to sit back.
Standing 6’0 tall and a slight 175 lbs, Morrissey is not a physically imposing figure on the ice, but unlike most other smaller defenceman, he does not shy away from contact in the open ice. It is not uncommon for Josh to take advantage of forwards skating with their heads down through the neutral zone or as they cross the blueline. A hit of the year candidate on Moose Jaw’s Tanner Eberle in late October is proof enough of this.
In the defensive zone however, Morrissey does tend to play a more passive style of defense, usually content to just keep attacking forwards to the outside and playing sound positional defense. While there is nothing inherently wrong about this approach, it might benefit Josh to be more aggressive (specifically with his stick) in his attempts to separate players from the puck in his own zone and turn the play the other way, where his top tier offensive skills can really shine.