Defenseman, Shattuck-St. Mary’s
6’2” 195 lbs.
Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 39th among North American Skaters
It wasn’t that long ago that you could safely pencil in the top player or two from the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep team into the first round of the NHL Draft every year. Things have changed a bit in recent years. It has become a lot more prevalent for players to leave the school early for junior hockey at the first opportunity, and a lot of other places have realized there is a good dollar to be made in offering hockey-forward academies, spreading out talent more.
But there are still some supremely talented players that come all the way through the Shattuck system. Two years ago, defenseman Jackson LaCombe was taken early in the second round, 39th overall, by Anaheim. And this year, defenseman Scott Morrow should hear his name called very early in the draft as well.
For all the emphasis on smaller defensemen that can skate in this year’s draft, Morrow is a big defenseman that can really skate, and that makes him a potential first round draft pick in this year’s draft.
What I Like
Morrow is an incredible athlete, especially for his size. There aren’t many smaller defensemen that can move the way he does, let alone a guy that is 6’2”. He’s got great balance and strength, and is light on his feet which allows him to create space for himself in tight areas.
There just aren’t that many defensemen in this draft, or any draft, that can create space for themselves at the offensive blue line with their skating ability like this. Here’s another example of that. You’d maybe like to see him create a little more offense out of that. That’s what separates Morrow as a late first round pick from a Luke Hughes, who will be a top-five pick. But it’s also worth keeping in mind Morrow was playing with unfamiliar teammates there, and there is always potential for him to refine that part of his game.
-Developing Offensive Game
Morrow didn’t score any points in his six-game run with the Fargo Force in the USHL playoffs, but he was generating quality offensive chances that just didn’t happen to work out.
His hands aren’t quite as good as his feet yet—here’s a play where he mishandles the puck, but is such a superior skater he makes the play anyway— but the potential is there, and if he can continue to develop that, he could become a really elite defenseman. If you look at this rush, he’s got the speed to get up the ice and into the offensive zone, and then almost makes a brilliant play to stickhandle around a couple defenders.
I really like this play too. Morrow uses his body to to disrupt a play and win the puck behind the net, makes a nice move to evade a forechecker and start a breakout, then is able to use his speed and hands to create space and get a shot off. There are a lot of really good tools on display in this play:
What I Don’t Like
-Not a lot
Defense is a tough position, especially at this age and there are always going to be nits to pick, especially in terms of positioning and defensive zone play. But I don’t see a lot of glaring holes with Morrow at this point.
He’ll need to continue to get stronger—much like every other player in this draft—and you’d like to see him become a little bit more reliable with the puck on his stick. But I would classify all that stuff as ‘Not There Yet’ rather than just ‘Not There’. He’s got all of the raw tools, it’s just a matter of it coming together.
The general consensus seems to have Morrow in the middle of the second round, but to me, Morrow is a clear first round talent. I suspect some of the flashes he showed in his brief stint with Fargo during their USHL playoff may have been enough to sell teams on taking him in the first round. Even if he doesn’t, I can’t see Morrow slipping past the second round of the draft.
Morrow’s combination of size and elite skating ability gives him a high ceiling, but also a pretty high floor even if he doesn’t take off over the next few years. The hope is that he develops the offensive side of his game a little more and can become a top pairing/PP quarterback type of guy, but even if he doesn’t, his mobility is going to make him useful in some capacity.
Morrow is committed to play college hockey at UMass. He could potentially play a year of junior hockey next season with Fargo in the USHL, but since he’s unlikely to play all four years of college hockey, it may make sense for UMass to bring him in next season. This is a dangerous comparison to make, but the hope will be that Morrow’s development trajectory will be similar to another smooth-skating prospect out of UMass in Cale Makar. Makar was good, but not great in his first season at UMass as he matured physically and adjusted to the college game, before taking off in his second season to become a dominant player. Morrow at least has the potential to be similar, if not quite to the same degree as Makar.