There were a lot of things about Josh Morrissey that jumped out for the Winnipeg Jets long before they called his name in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
His skating is top notch. His compete level is through the roof. He's got outstanding skills and vision with the puck on his stick. There's also the fact he was the Western Hockey League's Scholastic Player of the Year last season, an impressive highlight on his resumé that was reinforced Thursday when the Jets announced they had signed him to a three-year, two-way, entry level contract with an average annual value of $1.425 million.
Asked how he might treat himself thanks to a $92,500 signing bonus -- the rest doesn't come until he makes it to the NHL -- Morrissey quipped:
"I'm thinking about maybe a new truck. It seems like every guy who plays in the WHL or Western Canada eventually wants some kind of truck. My younger brother has just turned 16 and he's in line to be driving so I think the Jeep I've been driving the last few years gets passed on to him as his first car.
"I'll reward myself with something, although I'm not going to be going out and buying some $100,000 souped-up truck. But it's standard, particularly out west here, for guys to reward themselves that way."
When it was suggested a fancy ride might not hold up in our tough Prairie winters -- Morrissey is back with the Prince Albert Raiders after an impressive training camp with the Jets -- he added:
"No kidding. I don't know how well a Porsche would fare out here in the winter."
Named the Raiders' captain last week, the 18-year-old Morrissey has five points (2G, 3A) in three games since his return to Prince Albert. And the 13th overall pick said putting his signature on his first NHL contract on Thursday was a huge moment.
"It's a great day. It's another step along the way," said Morrissey. "You grow up watching hockey and wanting to play in the NHL. When you're drafted you feel like you are a part of the Jets, but now actually signing you feel that even more so. It's a pretty big stepping stone along the way. It's pretty cool.
"It's a big moment, not only for myself but my parents -- especially my dad. He was always there with me and supported me with his time, and financially, along the way.
"I'm pretty excited about all this," he added. "I can't wait to get playing there when the time comes. It seems like a great organization. Everything about it just feels awesome. I couldn't be happier."
STICK TO THE GAME PLAN: Cranking out a win over the injury-depleted Edmonton Oilers is one thing, getting the same result against a Western Conference heavyweight like the Los Angeles Kings is another.
That was the sentiment in Jetville on Thursday as the local hockey side -- to borrow a phrase commonly used by head coach Claude Noel -- went out of its way to make sure they didn't separate their shoulders patting themselves on the back after the season-opening victory over the Oilers.
Indeed, there might not be a better measuring stick for the Jets than the Kings.
"We've got to stick to our game plan, they're going to stick to theirs," said Dustin Byfuglien. "They're not going to give you many chances. We're going to have to be happy winning 1-0 or 2-1. We've got to have that mindset that we can't be going out there and have a shootout every night."
Today's matchup with the Kings marks the beginning of a stretch that will see the Jets play eight of their next nine at home.
NOTABLE: Defenceman Grant Clitsome, who missed the opener with a lower-body injury, did not skate Thursday... Eric Tangradi and James Wright flipped spots on the depth chart, with Tangradi moving up to the third line with Olli Jokinen and Michael Frolik... The Jets won Tuesday despite giving up four goals. Last year, Winnipeg's record when surrendering four goals or more was just 2-16... Jacob Trouba became the first NHL player to lead his team in ice time in his first NHL game since Colorado's Jonas Holos on Oct. 16, 2010. Holos, FYI, played just 39 games with the Avs and is now in the KHL.
ANALYZE THIS: The Jets' win over the Oilers may have this town buzzing, but when it was suggested that maybe too much was being read into one result, including the gushing about rookie Jacob Trouba's Calder Trophy chances -- the Vegas odds moved significantly after his work in Game 1 -- Evander Kane wisecracked:
"No, Jake didn't win the Calder... he won the Norris (as top defenceman). When you have a long off-season and the first game comes around, people are going to want to talk and analyze and pick apart. We've got a game (Friday) night so I'm sure everyone will be doing the same thing after that game."
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