When Cheveldayoff called Joshua Morrissey down, many were scratching their heads... with the exception of myself who was elated, since thinking Morrissey was the arguably the best available defensemen remaining.
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Joshua's Path to Success
After dominating Midget AAA while leading both his team and defensemen in the league in points, Joshua Morrissey was ready for his rookie season in the WHL at 16. Joshua played for the the Prince Albert Raiders, tallying 38 points, the most for a defensemen on his team. Relative to all U17 defensemen in the WHL, he was first in goals, points and points per game played. Opening up the sample to all players under 17, Morrissey was third in points (Nicolas Petan was fifth) and fourth in points per game played (Petan third). In addition, there were only seven U18 defensemen above Morrissey in points per game played (Morgan Rielly, Ryan Pulock, Matt Dumba, Derrick Pouliot, Eric Roy, Damon Severson, Griffin Reinhart). Josh also played for both Team Canada U17 and U18 team's that year, Sam Reinhart being the only other player to do so. Nicolas Petan (U17) and Scott Kosmachuk (U18) would be familiar faces on those teams for Jets' fans.
The next season Morrissey further improved his offensive game, pushing his points per game higher by about 20%. Again Josh lead his team for defensemen in points and points per game played. His point totals were good enough for eighteenth for defensemen and second for U18 defensemen. His points per game was sixteenth for defensemen and and second for U18 defensemen. Morrissey played twice for Team Canada U18, posting over a point per game. He had the highest point totals for a defensemen in both tournaments and placed second and thirteenth out of all players.
In his top 25 article, Jacob Trouba recieved a section in regards to his awards, but it should be noted Josh had a highly decorated year as well this past season. He won both the CHL and WHL Scholastic Player of the Year. He was on two gold medal winning U18 teams. He won most goals and points by a defensemen in both tournaments and was selected as one of the top 3 players for the gold winning Team Canada U18 WJC.
Joshua Morrissey was selected 13th overall by Winnipeg Jets in the 2013 draft. Even with all his success, many in Winnipeg did not know of Morrissey due to some third party scouting systems having him later in the first round. It should be noted that there were some who thought of Morrissey having top 10 pick potential.
"Advanced Stats" of a Underrated Cerebral Player
Unfortunately the data in the CHL that is accessible to the public isn't as indepth as the NHL. Because of this fact, there is no openly available database of shot attempt based statistics (although we know some teams like Soo Greyhounds track these and that San Jose Sharks uses Corsi for evaluating junior players). We can and have used the data available to make estimates, which when attempted and compared in the NHL turns out okay. With this data we are able to look into a few things about Morrissey last season.
We do know that Morrissey faced the toughest competition of all the Raider's defensemen. While be consistently matched against the other teams best, he finished with a +14 rating on a +1 differential team, which was the highest +/- for the defensmen of his team.
His overall points per game was the fourth highest of all first round defensemen, as was his even strength points per game (the information Derek Zona had was unfortunately incorrect, as he forgot to count Morrissey's and Zadarov's power play assists). His points per game compares closely to Pulock although Morrissey is almost half a year younger and receives almost 2 minutes less per a game.
As a silly exercise, the first rounders even strength points were divided by their estimated time on ice to create a pseudo P/60 stat. The only problem is the TOI is actually their total and not just 5v5 TOI, therefore penalizing those who spend more time on special teams. However, since these are the top defensemen of their class, they probably saw similar even strength to special teams ratio, just some saw more penalty kill time while others power play. When we do this we get the following:
Also, it has been shown that for first round defensemen, those with above 0.600 points per game played in their draft season have over a 75% chance of being NHL regulars, while those under are about 40% chance. So much for Nikita Zadorov then.
The Future of Puck Moving
Joshua Morrissey is a very intelligent hockey player. He reads the play well and is about as competent of a puck mover as you can get at this stage in development. This should come as no surprise, as his father runs a defensmen developmental camp specializing in puck movers. He compares himself to Kris Letang, but I have always found him to play and think more like Tobias Enstrom (speaking strictly stylistically), except with far more physicality.
Morrissey is a bit of a longer term project, as he will need to develop more strength in junior to succeed at the top level of pro. It has been hinted at before that Morrissey could end up being a potential pairing partner for Trouba in the distant future. If this were to happen and both hit close to their ceilings, the Jets could have a very interesting and dynamic pair.