Flames Draft Targets: Cam Morrison

ed: We couldn’t get an actual picture of Morrison, so here’s a picture of an eagle because he played in the USHL and America, or something (though he’s Canadian). Also apparently eagles are CONSTANTLY at sporting events? This is a really fun gallery.

Cameron Morrison is a big bodied scoring center from the USHL that projects to go in the second or third round (ranked 46th amongst North American players by Central Scouting) that could be a good fit for one of the Flames’ three second rounders.

Morrison stands 6’2” and 207 pounds. He was born on August 8, 1998 (the third youngest forward of all draft-eligible players listed by Central Scouting). He was born and raised in Ontario; however, he played his draft year with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, a league usually reserved for American-born players (though Youngstown, OH is only five hours away from East York, ON, where Morrison is from).

Morrison registered 66 points (34 goals and 32 assists) in 60 games for the Youngstown Phantoms and was one of the best players in the USHL. Considering only first-year draft eligible players, Morrison was one of the top three USHLers – along with high-probability first rounders Kieffer Bellows and Clayton Keller, who only played part of the season in the USHL (both splitting time with the U.S. Development U18 team) – while Morrison played with Youngstown the entire season. Morrison has committed to play with Notre Dame of the NCAA for the 2016-17 season. 

SCOUTING REPORTS

“A big, strong all-around player who thinks the game at a high level and executes plays with purpose and drive. Accelerates well and has no issues getting around the ice with haste; transition game will need some tweaks.  Very good vision and puck skills and has the size to make a difference driving to the net and causing havoc for the opposition’s defence. Defensively sound, using his size to his advantage along the boards and getting his stick in place to deflect passes out of harm’s way. Moving forward, Morrison will have every opportunity to develop into a smart power forward who can play in all situations and make it difficult on the opposition.” – Elite Prospects

“Morrison displays excellent touch and a lethal touch around the net. A good skater, however not elite, Morrison displays heavy feet which often lead to questions about his skating. With that being said, Morrison displays a fluid stride and adequate mobility along with impressive straight line speed, he simply lacks the explosiveness some would like to see. In the mold of a modern day power forward, Morrison displays a willingness to engage physical, impressive compete and will battle for loose pucks. With the ability to take over games, Morrison possesses an NHL caliber shot that comes with a quick release, excellent velocity and pin point accuracy.  Displaying a nose for the net, Morrison also shows deceptively good vision and playmaking skills, although he is undoubtedly a shoot first forward. With strong puck protection skills, Morrison is strong off the cycle and along the half boards and can be near impossible to contain off the rush, combining excellent generated momentum, strong puck protection skills and impressive puck skills.” – North Bay Battalion (Drafted his rights)

“Big winger Cameron Morrison first caught our attention in early August at Team Canada’s -18 evaluation camp. We loved the way he moved so fluidly and his shot, but were dismayed that he was seemingly heading back to his Tier II team in Aurora, ON. However, Morrison made a late decision to move to Youngstown in the USHL and has been lighting up the scoresheet. Three months after he first piqued our interest, Morrison has moved into our top 50.” – USA Today

In summary: hell of a shot, impossible to get off the puck with a great compete but his skating needs some work. Sounds like a lot of what the Flames covet… a big powerful forward that’s good on both sides of the puck. 

THE NUMBERS

Goals: 34

1A: 24

2A: 8

Points: 66

PPG: 1.1

Primary Points Per Game: .967

Shooting Percentage: 29%

% of Total Team Scoring: 34%

ES/PP Splits: 59 ES, 7 PP

Morrison is at or near the top of the league in every category except for secondary assists, which is not a bad thing. If we factor out the over-agers and Keller and Bellows, who only played a third of the season with the USHL, Morrison is by far the best draft-eligible player in the USHL this year. 

Morrison was a driver on his team, leading the team in scoring (impressive for a rookie); the closest player to him was 16 points back. He was in on over much of his team’s goals and his ES/PP splits are very good. His secondary assists were incredibly low: he only had eight of them, while he was top five in the entire league for goals and first assists. 

NHLE

Hitting a 30+ NHLE is indicative of a future scoring in the NHL, the younger the better. Very few players have gone on to score in the NHL at an average to elite rate and not done this in their junior/feeder league. 

Morrison’s NHLE sits at 24. He’s not there in his draft year. However, he’s young – very young. While the younger you hit a 30+ NHLE the better, but the big thing that comes out of the data is… do it before you turn 19 and you set yourself apart from the has nots, the replacement level players and the mediocre players. So if you’re a spring/summer-born player you essentially have two kicks at the can to register a 30+ NHLE and still fall into the “this guy is going to be a good scoring NHLer” category: the draft year and the draft +1 year. 

The players that most often take this leap in their D+1 year were close to hitting 30 in their draft year, registering a 20+ NHLE in their draft year. Some elite examples of players that resemble this: Jarome Iginla, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Johnny Gaudreau, Ryan Johansen.

CONCLUSION

I’m actually extremely surprised that he is not ranked higher. He is a few secondary assists from having legitimate mid-first rounder scoring numbers, he’s young, can score and he’s big. The only reasoning I can give is teams legitimately haven’t scouted him enough and don’t know him like they know other prospects. 

He played his first year in the USHL this year, his draft year, where most players will have played in the league for a few years. Morrison came from the OJHL, a tier II league where few NHLers have been drafted from, and damn near went back for a second year before having second thoughts and deciding to go play with Youngstown.  

Looking at his numbers, size, age and what’s generally left by the end of the second round or third round, in terms of forwards, I would figure he would be a candidate to go somewhere in the last third of the first round – yet some mock drafts him slipping to the late second round or even third round. 

The Flames have a slew of second rounders and if they’re not all traded away to procure other assets, to me, this guy should be penciled in for one of those second rounders. Maybe even 35th overall if no-brainers like DeBrincat, Abramov and Mascherin are off the board already. Morrison doesn’t show legit numbers yet but fits the bill of a guy that is going to take a big leap in his D+1 year.  

He’s also exactly what the Flames need: a big forward (can play center or left wing) that appears to have legitimate skill and scoring touch, and not a magic beans big guy pick. 

Previous draft targets: Alexander Nylander | Pierre-Luc Dubois | Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun | Olli Juolevi | Clayton Keller | Alex DeBrincat | Sam Steel | Vitalii Abramov | Jake Bean | Tyson Jost | Mikhail Sergachev | Tyler Benson | Griffin Luce | Logan Brown | Samuel Girard | Will Bitten | Cliff Pu | Taylor Raddysh | Adam Mascherin | Carter Hart | Jordan Kyrou

  • Shoestring

    Based on what I have read, he is a strong skater that lacks speed and mobility. Projected as a 3-4 liner in the NHL. I would think that is why he is ranked low, considering his scoring totals.

  • Parallex

    He has some red flags as far as I’m concerned.

    His shooting percentage was 30%. He had 117 shots on the season (most of his peers amoung the top point producers in the USHL had 175-200+).

    He produced points as a rookie in a league that’s hard to score in so that’s something… but a combo of a high shooting percentage plus low volume shot totals would make me really sketchy about using a high pick on him without some more data.

  • everton fc

    If I had to choose between Morrison and Kyrou, it’s Kyrou all the way. I like Kyrou’s speed. Great hands…

    Might be worth drafting in the 50’s, and converting him to wing, as he’s not a good face-off man. This quote from one scout below, makes him an interesting guy to think about, if he’s around in the “50’s”:

    “Kyrou’s skill with the puck is also among the best in this draft class, as he possesses the ability to make defenders miss and create a ton of time and space for himself to operate.”

    He can play right wing, and is a right-handed shot. We need RW’s. Right-handed shots…

    Mascherin at #35, Kyrou at #53, if either is available. If Katchouk somehow falls to #35, we have to consider him, as well. I am actually starting to like Kyrou as much as Abramov – if Kyrou can be converted to RW.

  • McRib

    I watched Cameron Morrison at the Summer U18s and was thoroughly impressed by his game. He started off the tournament slowly obviously having played tier two hockey the previous summer he wasn’t used to the pace of the faster CHLers at camp. Once he made the adjustment though in the later scrimmages he began to dominate. Morrison has all the makings of being a second round steal. The USHL is a hard league for draft eligibles as most teams play the crap out of 19-20 year olds. The fact that he finished third in USHL scoring (running away with team scoring crown, 16 more points than next closest teammate) speaks volumes to how much upside this kid has considering. He is Ranked 24th by Red Line Report (who wrote that USA Today piece).

    I mean outside of an Alex DeBrincat (Ranked 20th by Red Line) falling or an Adam Mascherin (Ranked 22nd by Red Line) still being available with our first second rounder, we could do much worse than drafting Cameron Morrison. NHL Teams are being really quiet on Morrison, which usually means they want him to fall into the second round (so wouldn’t be surprised if someone stepped up in the late first round and took him, despite what other private publication think of him, outside of Red Line). I must say I really don’t like the NHLe being used on this site for USHLers, as I think the US National Team Programs number greatly skew USHL NHLe numbers on players playing on club teams (where it is considerably harder to score). Judging by your model Brock Boeser would hardly have hit an NHLe of 30 last year (as mentioned above his numbers are similar to Cameron Morrison this year. Just look at Gaudreaus numbers in the USHL as well. They would be well below where they should have been. He led the USHL in scoring that year I believe and he didn’t crack a NHLe of 30 in your model, which is crazy). You have to come up with a separate USHL model for US National Team Program Players and another for Club Team players. I mean Cameron Morrison finished tied for second in USHL scoring and his NHLe by your model is fairly comparable to a Brett Howden finishing T48 in the WHL, which doesn’t make any sense to me. The WHL is not that much better than the USHL. Maxim Letunov had almost identical numbers to Morrison last year in USHL (year older) and put up 40 Points as a freshman. I think that’s more than achievable for Morrison next year as a true freshman.

    • everton fc

      Good assessment. Excellent, in fact.

      But I’d take Kyrou over Morrison if I had to choose one or the other, with the same pick.

      (Mascherin = Fata – We never do know, do we. And Puljujarvi could be the next Daigle!)

  • Baalzamon

    My random predictions for the draft:

    • After much ballyhoo, the Oilers keep their fourth overall pick and select Matthew Tkachuk. Later, they trade Darnell Nurse for Tyson Barrie and proclaim their rebuild complete.
    • Logan Stanley will be selected in the first round. He will not sign his ELC, and will go undrafted upon re-entering the draft. He will then quit hockey to become a politician. As an Ontario MLA, he will become known for his hard-nosed defensive style.
    • The player taken with the compensatory pick awarded due to the above will make up for everything to the team in question.
    • Alex DeBrincat, Vitali Abramov, and Adam Mascherin will all be taken in the first round. They will all be considered better than many of the players selected ahead of them in retrospect.
    • Similar to John Gibson in 2011, Carter Hart will not be the first goalie off the board. No one will ever understand why.
    • Tyler Benson will fall further than anyone expects. The team that finally snags him will reap the benefits for no less than ten years.
    • Conner Bleackley will be selected in the third round. He will never play a game in the NHL.
    • The Flames will select no less than two players passed over in previous drafts. One of them will be Tomas Soustal.
    • Somehow, Sebastian Aho will yet again go undrafted. He will sign as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings and enjoy a long, productive career in the NHL.
      • Baalzamon

        Of course I mean the same name on defense. The forward never passed through the draft (he was drafted in his first eligible season; last year). The defenseman has been overlooked twice now.