Campese: Morrissey's AHL experience "invaluable" to Raiders

Andrew
Andrew Schopp
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Since being assigned to the Winnipeg Jets American Hockey League affiliate St. John's IceCaps in March, Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Josh Morrissey tallied an assist in eight AHL regular season games, two goals and four assists in the playoffs. Photo by Collin Peddle - St. John's IceCaps 

Prince Albert Raiders captain Josh Morrissey may not return to the team next season, but if he does, he’ll bring something no other player in the lineup can. 

Upon the conclusion of the Raiders WHL season in March, Morrissey was assigned to the Winnipeg Jets AHL affiliate St. Johns IceCaps where he tallied an assist in eight regular season games.

Now, Morrissey is deep in the AHL playoffs, heading into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins on Wednesday.

As it stands, should the Jets 2013 first round pick return to the Raiders lineup in September, Morrissey would be the only player on the roster with professional hockey experience, a critical asset to the organization said Raiders GM Bruno Campese. 

“It’s totally invaluable,” Campese said of having Morrissey return to the Raiders lineup with AHL playoff games, and possibly a Calder Cup, under his belt. “It would be a huge step for our organization to have a guy that’s spent so much time at that level come back and share those experiences." 

Taking on former Raider Harrison Ruopp, who currently patrols the Penguins blue line, Morrissey posted a rating of plus-two in Game 2 on Sunday as the IceCaps tied up the series at one game apiece with a 2-1 triumph at the Mile One Centre.

Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Morrissey has found the back of the net twice with four assists in 10 games taking on the Albany Devils and Norfolk Admirals.

As Morrissey continues to taste life at the professional level, Campese said his captain will only get better. 

“At every level, you see that the intensity and preparation is a little bit more magnified,” Campese explained. “That experience, for him to be able to bring it back and share it, would be absolutely huge for our organization.” 

The jury is still out on the fates of Morrissey and fellow Raiders stalwart Leon Draisaitl, as making the leap to the NHL next season remains a possibility for both players. 

The good news for Raiders fans is that the Jets have a lot of depth at the blue line. 

While 20-year-old Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba appears to have clinched a full-time spot on the roster following a succesfull rookie campaign, the team has five other regular blue liners under contract for the 2014-2015 season. 

There is very little wiggle room for Morrissey to make the leap to the NHL in his underage year, however injury hits to the Jets defensive corps and a strong training camp from the 19-year-old could open the door. 

Although losing Morrissey to the Jets and Draisaitl to whichever team drafts him on June 27, would strike as a major blow to the Raiders roster, it would also indicate that Campese and the rest of the organization are doing their jobs.

“Not having those two guys could change some things, and yet, that’s why we’re here,” Campese said. “We are here to move kids on to a higher level and if that happens, fantastic. We will find ways to recuperate and compensate for the loss.” 

andrew.schopp@paherald.sk.ca 

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