Who is Antoine Morand?
Antoine Morand is a small (5’9’’, 170lbs), but dynamic center for the Acadie-Bathurst Titans of the QMJHL. His team lost in 7 games in the 2nd round of the QMJHL playoffs to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada who are currently playing in the Championship. Morand wore an “A” for the Titans this year, as well as for Team Quebec for whom he was the leading scorer at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He likely profiles as more of a winger and is electric with the puck as indicated by both his stats and his top 3 finish in the with-puck weave in CHL fitness testing.
According to Elite Prospects, he is second in the QMJHL in scoring among forwards under 18. There are also some more advanced stats available for the QMJHL on prospect-stats.com. I’ve taken the All-situation stats, and made a sheet of Morand’s position relative to the rest of the league on each one.
It should be clear. For the most part, he seems to be pretty clearly the 2nd most prolific scorer in the league under 18 behind Nico. Nico has the benefit of being very impressive in international play and also being 3 inches taller than Morand -- although roughly the same weight. Across the board, he is producing a ton of points via both goals and assists and he has a typical distribution of primary/secondary points so no red flags. Furthermore, his rate of high-danger shots is top 5 in the league among U18 players and his shot percentage is actually slightly below average. That nose for scoring zones should translate well to the NHL.
Conversely, you don’t like that he has really high shot percentages in the medium and low danger zones. Those are unsustainable at the NHL-level. It’s also discouraging that he’s only a 50% faceoff guy. It likely means he’d be a liability in the circle if he were to try to be an NHL-centerman. It’s not great that his quality of teammate seems to significantly outweigh his quality of competition either. It indicates that he hasn’t seem really tough situations and that is a big black mark for a small guy that doesn’t have a lot of international experience.
Where is Antoine Morand ranked?
His rankings have been all over the place — which is predictable given the difficulty in profiling guys with his high level of production, but non-NHL size. Since he is an atypical profile for an NHL forward, it’s difficult to determine if his skills will translate. Those who do, like Hockey Prospectus and The Draft Analyst, have had him all the way up at 23rd and 24th overall, respectively. Most are probably more in line with NHL Central Scouting who have him down at 53rd just among North American skaters. The compromise ranking would be Future Considerations who have him at #41 overall.
What Others Say About Antoine Morand
“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. Battles hard at both ends of the ice.” — Dennis Schellenberg, Hockey Prospectus.
“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.” — Future Considerations
“Quick hands and ability to pounce of rebounds. More of an opportunistic sniper who skates lurking in the perimeters and swoops in to get that quick strike chance. Needs to play stronger on the puck and add strength to his anchor. “ - Bill Placzek
Go to 3:08 if you want to see the biggest reason for excitement. You see him gain the zone by himself, get into a prime scoring zone, and then finish. At 3:25 you can see his passing chops on full display. He was waiting to make that pass like a sniper waits to finish a one-timer. You should watch the entire highlight because there’s a lot of beautiful plays in there that demonstrate patience, high hockey IQ, vision, and speed. What you will NOT see is a lot of power on the puck, hard-hitting, or a blistering shot.
An Opinion of Sorts
It’s a risky guy to pick, but one who could absolutely make a big impact in today’s game. Guys like Johnny Gaudreau tear it up in NCAA or juniors, get knocked down draft boards because of their size (Johnny is 20lbs lighter than Morand), but then end up proving everyone wrong. It’s not hard to wee Morand panning out in the NHL. His skill in the open ice combined with his vision, intelligence, and passing ability should allow him to thrive in a team that plays fast-paced, open-ice hockey. But if he had to deal with Ryan Kesler like Connor McDavid has to right now, he would be done.
Still, his game doesn’t strike me as gimmicky at all. He doesn’t have size, but his style doesn’t seem to necessitate it much. He’s crafty on the boards and will win battles with his intelligence. He’s got heart as you can see in the fight in the video above — so being small and a physical target may not knock him off his game as much as it could others.
All that said, he’s not going to be able to camp out in the slot in the NHL so his goal-scoring seems like the most likely part of his game to suffer (think Reid Boucher). Being mediocre in the circle and average in his own end probably profiles him as a winger also. He has a super high ceiling and is a 1st round offensive talent. He does fit the fast, attacking, supportive mantra as well. So if the Devils go with Nolan in the first round and are looking for dynamic complement, this could be the guy. Personally, I’d like our first 2nd rounder (36th overall) to go to a defender if we get Nolan/Nico with the first. If this guy is sitting there at 48th overall then I grab him.
What do you think of Antoine Morand? Do you want the Devils taking a guy like him that could offer another exciting offensive weapon? Or are you terrified of another Mattias Tedenby (5’10’’, 174lbs, #24 overall)? Does this slot seem like it absolutely has to be used for a defender to you? Post your thoughts below. Thanks for reading!