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Scott Morrow: 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: A Highly-Mobile High School Defenseman

In today’s profile, we’ll be taking a look at Scott Morrow, out of Shattuck St. Mary’s U18 Prep.

Who is Scott Morrow?

Scott Morrow is a 6’2”, 192 pound right-handed defenseman from Connecticut, USA, and was born in November 2002. Unlike many other top prospects, Morrow does not play in Major Juniors and only played two games in the USHL in 2019-20 and six playoff games in 2021. Instead, Morrow is going a more American way of High School and NCAA Hockey. He will be attending the UMass in Fall 2021. He was previously committed to the University of North Dakota.

Elite Prospects

It is hard to make much of Scott Morrow’s high school statistics, as he was not going up against as tough competition as others in the top two rounds of the Draft. Morrow has a reputation as an offensively-minded defenseman, but we will see how well he adjusts to college defenses.

Where is Morrow Ranked?

Scott Morrow has flown under the radar for many, and thus he is not in many Draft rankings. Where he is ranked, he ranges from a late first round pick to a late second round pick.

What Others Have to Say About Him

At Last Word on Sports, Ben Kerr is a fan of Scott Morrow’s skating and offensive ability, but is highly skeptical of his defensive ability, saying Morrow “might be the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this year’s draft.” In his article on Morrow, Kerr writes,

His acceleration and speed are very good in both directions. Morrow has excellent cross-overs and this gives him the ability to gain speed defensively as well as to move laterally and to gain speed and power coming out of his turns. His crisp pivots allow Morrow to quickly transition from offence to defence and vice-versa...He pairs his strong skating with excellent puck handling skills. This allows him to get the puck out of his end and to lead the rush through the neutral zone. Morrow is able to generate effective zone entries and maintains possession in the zone with his poise and stickhandling. His vision and passing skills are also very good.

While Kerr compares the style of Scott Morrow to John Carlson, I wonder if Morrow’s passing skills are enough to be a top four offensive defenseman in the NHL. Kerr does not really say anything good about Morrow’s defensive game except for starting the transition once his team has the puck. However, nowhere does Kerr note Morrow’s ability to help his team actually regain possession, as he fails to use his skating or size to his advantage defensively.

At Dobber Prospects, Tony Ferrari also raves about Morrow’s offensive ability, calling his passing “pinpoint,” but seems to have much more faith in his defensive ability. While Kerr knocked Morrow’s gap control, Ferrari said:

Morrow plays with such a cerebral mindset, looking to attack at all times. Rarely allowing the game to come to him, he takes space away defensively with aggressive puck pursuit and tight gaps on the rush. When the puck isn’t on the stick of himself or a teammate, Morrow ensures that it gets there...His entire game is built upon his skating base. Multi-lateral mobility and the ability to hit the jets with ease allow Morrow to be one of the most mobile players in the 2021 draft class. He understands how to maneuver the ice, cutting down angles and timing runs perfectly.

Dobber Prospects ranks Morrow nearly a whole round (31 spots) higher than Last Word on Sports, so this seems to be the discrepancy. Nobody seems to doubt that Morrow can be a great offensive force, but the question from scouts would be whether his defensive ability would counteract any value he brings to the table. There are some interesting notes about his defense from Smaht Scouting which might explain his deficiencies, though. For Smaht Scouting, Josh Tessler writes,

With his defensive style, you can expect Morrow to be the last defenseman to re-enter the defensive zone and that is due to his aggressive defensive measures in the neutral zone. Morrow thrives in the neutral zone and it would be a mistake to force him to adjust his style. Instead, coaches should expect to pair him with a defenseman who drops back to the net consistently.

While this does intrigue me, the Devils specifically have a problem with defensive zone play - and I would argue they are worst there, with less structure than any other zone. While it is a fool’s errand to predict whether these problems be the same when Scott Morrow possibly arrives in the NHL after 2-4 years, I do not imagine Morrow will be of much aid to the Devils’ defense if he is selected based on what others say about him.

Some Video

We’ll be looking at a shift-by-shift video from a game between Shattuck St. Mary’s and Chicago Mission U18. Since he is a high school athlete, there are not any highlight videos to speak about.

The first good thing I see in this video comes at 1:10. After an offensive zone faceoff, Chicago clears. With Shattuck’s defensemen on their off-hand sides, Morrow comes across to aid his partner in repossessing the loose puck before flipping the puck past an oncoming forward. As the video progresses, I started to heavily dislike Morrow playing on his off-side. He does not possess the quickness of decision-making or positioning in the defensive zone to play on the left.

At 4:50, Scott Morrow shades from the left side of the offensive zone to be square with the goaltender before sending a low shot for a deflection, but nothing comes from it. Shortly after, Morrow takes a missed pass from Chicago in the neutral zone, turning and faking through the blueline to regain the zone, but he was unable to beat a third man. At 6:05, he attempts to hold the puck away from a forward as he walks the blueline, but it gets poked away from him.

After a failed zone entry by Shattuck at 8:10, Chicago turns the puck over to Scott Morrow, playing now on the right side, who beats the oncoming man who tried to swipe the puck away with one outreached arm (and may have held Morrow with his loose hand). Morrow turns in toward the goaltender, widens, and rips off a wrist shot that rebounds and nearly results in a Shattuck goal. At the blueline, Morrow fakes right and changes direction as a forward slides too far on one knee for a blocked shot. Morrow turns and looks to the goaltender before sliding a pass across to the lower edge of the faceoff circle for one-timer. The puck circles around the boards after missing the net, which Morrow collects. Morrow spins back to the blueline to get around the Chicago forward (as his teammate commits interference with a pick), turns toward the net, stickhandles for a backhand shot that he aims for the top right corner, and just misses. Chicago clears the zone.

However, they did not shoot the puck out at a very good angle. Scott Morrow collects it in the neutral zone right by the blueline, and as players try to change out of desperation Morrow reenters the offensive zone. He turns and looks at his one supporting forward, and as the Chicago defenseman steps up to challenge Morrow, Morrow toe drags around him. The other defenseman and an oncoming supporting forward both shade too much for the pass, and Morrow dekes from the goal line and nearly scores on his backhand again, but it appears a Chicago defender’s stick got in the way of the attempt. Morrow tries to follow up but is taken down with a check from behind. Play is blown dead shortly after despite a loose puck.

My Thoughts

It was at this moment I realized why some scouts are so optimistic about Morrow, with some saying he could be just as good as the top defenseman in the draft, or possibly better offensively. But earlier in the video, most of what I saw was a defenseman with poor positioning and slow reaction time defensively. For that reason, I think he should be a second round pick. Given his low level of play, NCAA hockey could very well put him through the ringer on defense.

Ultimately, I think the New Jersey Devils need to be sure about who they are picking, because Morrow could very well end up a bust, and I think he might be one of the more risky picks. The Devils made one such pick last year in Shakir Mukhamadullin, and I do not think they need to repeat that decision with one fewer first round pick.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of Scott Morrow? Do you think he's worth the risk? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading.