Claude Noel hopes drafting Joshua Morrissey helps the Winnipeg Jets take another step towards strengthening a thin prospect pool.
“We’re trying to get a cycle of development going,” said the Jets head coach. “As a young franchise (that) cycle hasn’t completely started.”
Winnipeg picked Morrissey 13th overall in Sunday’s NHL draft, and Noel hopes the addition of the defenceman along with the development of young players such as Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele quicken the Jets’ growth next season.
“It’s really exciting to be part of the Jets organization,” said Morrissey. “It’s definitely a pretty cool experience.
“I always wanted to go to a passionate city and have passionate fans, and I got my wish.”
The Jets also acquired Michael Frolik from Chicago for the 74th and 134th picks. Frolik recorded 10 points in both the regular and post-season for the Stanley Cup champions, while playing on an energy line.
“Frolik fit what we were kind of looking for from a winger standpoint, someone that’s a really good penalty-killer, someone that is a former two-time 20-goal scorer at the National Hockey League level,” said general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.
“Works extremely hard. You saw how he played in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s when he does play his best. He’s someone that really competes and I know will be looking for an expanded role in our group.”
A mobile defenceman, who said he patterns his game after Norris Trophy finalist Kris Letang, Morrissey recorded 15 goals and 32 assists in 70 games with Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League last season.
He also had three assists and 22 penalty minutes in seven games for Canada in the World Under-18s.
“I think I’m a two-way defenceman with an offensive upside. I like to compete hard and my biggest assets are my skating and my hockey sense,” Morrissey said. “I have to work on my defensive game but my offensive side has really flourished.”
According to Morrissey, he had an inkling that the Jets were interested in him after four meetings.
“The meetings with the Jets (were) amazing,” Morrissey said. “They were good guys. They had a lot of good things to say. It seemed as we talked, things just clicked. I definitely left there feeling pretty good.”
While Morrissey is planning on attending training camp with the Jets, it seems unlikely that he will make the team. The 18-year old is just 186 pounds, has WHL eligibility, and Noel said the team does not want to stunt the development of any of its young players.
Included are Trouba and Scheifele. While Noel believes the last two first-round picks — Trouba was the ninth overall pick in 2012, Scheifele was selected seventh overall in 2011 — should be “on or near the team,” he was not willing to say the defenceman and centre were entering camp needing to earn a NHL job.
“We don’t need them to overplay the situation,” Noel said.
Along with Morrissey, the Jets selected centre Nicolas Petan, goaltender Eric Comrie, centre James Lodge, right-wing J.C. Lipon, centre Andrew Copp, and defencemn Jan Kostalek, Tucker Poolman, Brenden Kichton and Marcus Karlstrom.