0
Photo Credit: RDS

Nation Network 2017 Prospect Profile: #43 Antoine Morand

An undersized forward with great offensive output being ranked higher than most public services by Canucks Army is shocking!

Jokes aside – Morand is another player who is just a few inches too small and thus might get overlooked despite tearing up the QMJHL this year. Players like Morand are getting a little more validation in recent years with success stories such as Tyler Johnson, Jake Guentzel, Viktor Arvidsson, Brad Marchand and Johnny Gaudreau. Those players are the same height as Morand, with Johnson being an inch shorter, and are just a few of the successful players.

Obviously there are countless players who didn’t make it because of their smaller stature, but now teams aren’t so quick to overlook a player just because they may give an inch or two away to their opponent.

With that, Antoine Morand comes in as the 43rd ranked prospect in the Nation Network 2017 Prospect Profiles.

Bio:

  • Age: 18-years-old, 1999-02-18
  • Birthplace: Mercier, QUE, CAN
  • Position: C
  • Handedness: L
  • Height: 5’9″
  • Weight: 170 lbs
  • Draft Year Team: Acadie-Bathurst Titans – QMJHL

Stats:

pGPS S pGPS N pGPS % pGPS P/82 pGPS R
109 14 12.4 44.9 5.6

Read about pGPS here.

Scouts:

NHL (CSS) ISS Future Considerations HockeyProspect McKenzie McKeen’s Pronman Button
53 N/A 41 N/A N/A N/A 41 47

From Dennis Schellenberg (Hockey Prospectus):

An undersized but very speedy and skilled playmaker. He thinks the game at a high level and is often a step ahead of his opponents mentally. Has a motor that never breaks and keeps working hard in every shift with a great energy-level.

From Future Considerations:

A speedy and skilled playmaker…his biggest strength is his quick mind and ability to win battles with it rather than with size or strength…he knows what he is doing with the puck a step ahead of his opponent or his teammate most of the time…he is a competitor who just keeps coming…creative and skilled with his hands as he can dance around the ice with the puck on a string…what he lacks in size, he makes up for in smarts and competitiveness…his skating is also high-end as he is quick and fast, making quick turns or lateral shifts as well as generating impressive straight speed…not an overly physical guy, but does not back down and will jump into the mix…just like everything else, he has a quick shot release…responsible defensively…battles just as hard in his own zone as he does offensively…playmaker with strong vision and NHL upside.

Our Take:

Morand is an extremely skilled spark plug who is has very good skating skills that he uses to weave in and out of traffic. He compliments that agility with great puck movement and a decent shot. Honestly, if  Morand was a few inches taller, the higher ranking would be out of norm. It’s always interesting to see what the size difference does. Rightfully so to some degree, but the small players who do the little things do separate themselves and if you look at the heat map for Morand’s shots, it’s pretty amazing:

That’s a lot of shots from the slot and his goals came from the same area. He gets to the home plate area and gets it done. At the pro level, he won’t be able to camp out in the slot, so will need to ensure that he uses his skating abilities and elusiveness to dart in and out.

Morand was second amongst QMJHL forwards who are first time draft eligible to Nico Hischier in quite a few categories including goals, primary points, and points per game.

Morand and Christophe Boivin were glued to each other for most of the season, playing 81.18% of Morand’s ice time together. They were dominant, posting some serious numbers

Vladimir Kuznetsov was their most regular linemate and he posted even better goals for numbers with a GF % of 72.4% and GF%Rel of 24.4%. Needless to say, those three drove the bus for the Titans.

Splitting his numbers into wins and losses reinforce that thought – as he was well over a point per game in wins:

He was fourth amongst the first time draft QMJHL forwards and had shots in 63 of the 67 games. That number was 66th amongst the entire QMJHL forward group. His 28 goals were 36th when compared to the QMJHL forwards, so he is producing. In a perfect world, his shot rate would be higher but it is within a first line rate.

The Mercier native has excellent vision that puts his teammates in very advantageous positions to score, and he his scoring rates are encouraging. That’s what separates him from other players. He is very adept  at moving the puck quickly. He anticipates where his teammate is while the puck is coming to him, he then quickly moves to the open man for a good chance.

The only dip in his production came in late November and early December, where he went 5 games without a point. Otherwise, he never went more than two games without registering a point. He followed up the regular season with 12 points (2-10-12) in 11 playoff games and pushed his SOG/GP to 3.0.

Morand had an encouraging rookie season in 2015-16 with 14 goals and 36 assists, and then followed that up with this productive year.

Coming from the QMJHL and being small mean the numbers don’t shake out in Morand’s favour. With 12.4% of his co-horts going onto becoming NHL players.

But the players that have made it have seen some level of success with the majority of matches topping at a 2nd line player.

Morand isn’t a perfect player but he does have an intriguing skill set that could see success at the next level. He isn’t at the same level as 2016 3rd round pick Vitalii Abramov but he does appear worthy of selection on the second day. Obviously, the odds are stacked against him because of his size and coming out of the QMJHL but it’s fair to believe that he could play well enough to earn an ELC and go from there.

Morand likely won’t get drafted in the early 2nd round but I do think that after someone selects him – there will be stories and videos from prospect camp showcasing how dynamic Morand is. It happens every year with a smaller player who falls and the Acadie-Bathurst seems like a decent candidate for that this year. After that, it will depend on Morand to buck the trends and carve out an NHL career.