NEWARK, NJ – He shook hands, slapped backs and then slipped into his new Winnipeg Jets jersey and baseball hat. And, to be honest, the moment was better than Joshua Morrissey could have ever dreamed.
"It was wild," said the Morrissey after being plucked 13th overall in Sunday’s NHL Draft. "I’ve imagined it a million times, maybe more. It was better than I could have ever imagined, to be honest. Standing up there… I’m in a rink with tons of people, thousands of people, and it really just felt like I was in my own world and how amazing it was. It’s something I’ll never forget."
The Jets, once again on draft day, raised a few eyebrows taking Morrissey – a smooth-skating 5-11, 182-pound defenceman with the Prince Albert Raiders – as many mock drafts had him going late in the first round. But he was interviewed by 27 NHL teams and four times by the Jets.
"They were just really good guys and we got along really well," said Morrissey. "They had a lot of good things to say and it seemed that as we talked, things just clicked. So, I definitely left there feeling pretty good."
Some factors that obviously impressed the Jets:
- Working with former Jet defenceman Dave Manson in Prince Albert, Morrissey put up good numbers with the Raiders, scoring 15 goals and adding 32 assists in 70 games. He was paired with Darnell Nurse as the top defensive pair for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Under-18 tournament last summer.
- He was the WHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year, maintaining a 92.4 per cent average.
- He’s been compared to Niklas Kronwall and Gary Suter, said he modeled his game after Krist Letang.
"I’m a two-way defenceman with offensive upside," said Morrissey. "I like compete hard and I think my biggest assets are my skating and my hockey sense.
"My offensive side has really come. I’ve been working on my defensive game, but my offensive game has really flourished and really become better and better as time has gone on here. I want to keep getting better in all things, but that’s probably the biggest thing for me so far."
A Calgary native, Morrissey said he is thrilled to be staying relatively close to home and going to a hockey-crazed market.
"It’s unbelievable. You grow up watching Hockey Night in Canada or whatever it is and seeing the passion where I’m from in Canada, it’s something I’ve always wanted. I’ve always wanted to go to a passionate city that has passionate fans and I definitely got my wish."
Morrissey will attend the team’s prospect camp in July as well as the Young Stars tournament in September before heading to main Jets’ camp.
"I’d like to be in (the NHL) as soon as possible," he said. "I’m going to go to camp this year and do everything I can to make them not send me home or give them the toughest decision. Obviously, that’s a pretty hard thing to do. I’ll just go and work really hard this offseason and see where it takes me."
The Jets have three picks in the second round, with their selection coming 43rd overall followed by the 59th and 61st selection. Overall, Winnipeg has 10 selections in the 2013 draft, tied for most with Buffalo, Los Angeles and Nashville.
The Colorado Avalanche, as expected, grabbed Halifax Mooseheads forward Nathan MacKinnon first overall, with Alexsander Barkov, a Finnish centre, going to the Florida Panthers at second. The top five was rounded out by Jonathan Drouin going third to Tampa, Seth Jones fourth to Nashville and Elias Lindholm fifth to Carolina.
Grandview's Ryan Pulock was taken 15th overall by the New York Islanders, prompting him to tweet, "Gonna be hard to fall asleep tonight, better then Christmas Eve as a young boy! #NHLDraft2013"
The Jets took Nic Petan, C, Portland, with their first second round pick.
- with files from The Canadian Press