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Prospect Update: Antoine Morand
By Thomas Harrington
Antoine Morand had a good season since Anaheim drafted him in last year’s NHL Entry Draft, their second pick of second round.
Morand had a strong third season of junior hockey, scoring 26 goals and 76 points in 66 games for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. He played one fewer game than he did the season before he was drafted, and scored two fewer goals, but recorded four more assists and two more points. He led Acadie-Bathurst in points and was third in goals. Morand was also one of his team’s alternate captains. In the playoffs, he scored eight goals and 19 points in 20 games, helping lead the Titan to the QMJHL Championship. He was third in both goals and points on his team in the playoffs. By winning the QMJHL Championship, Acadie-Bathurst qualified for the Memorial Cup. In four games, Morand recorded only two assists, but helped lead his team to the Memorial Cup Championship. In the final game, he faced off against Sam Steel and helped shut down his fellow Anaheim prospect in an incredibly exciting game. The Titan were definitely a surprise to win the Memorial Cup, as many had picked Steel and the Regina Pats as the favorites going into the tournament. Through the first few games of the tournament, they showed why, but Morand and the Titan were able to shut down Regina’s high scoring offense and skate away with the victory.
After playing for Acadie-Bathurst for the last three years, Morand will play for a new team this fall, the Halifax Mooseheads. Days after winning the Memorial Cup, he was traded to the Mooseheads, and he’ll have a chance at winning the Memorial Cup two years in a row. The deal had actually been agreed to during the season, but it wasn’t completed until Acadie-Bathurst’s season came to an end. He’ll be joining another Anaheim prospect on his new team, the recently drafted Benoit-Olivier Groulx. The Ducks selected him in the second round this past June.
My expectations for Morand’s final year of juniors are simple: continue to produce offense at a high rate. He’s gotten close to 30 goals and 80 points these last two seasons, and I’d love to see him crack those two numbers this coming season. Also, I’d like to see him make Canada’s World Junior roster in December. This summer, Morand was invited to Team Canada’s World Junior Showcase. While it doesn’t mean that he’ll make the roster, he’s certainly receiving strong consideration for it. If he can go, and play with his good friend and fellow Anaheim prospect Maxime Comtois, it would be great for his development. Finally, I’d love to see him and Groulx develop some chemistry this coming season. I’ve always thought it beneficial when two prospects can play together in college, juniors, or the minor league ranks and begin to build some chemistry.
Morand has one more year of juniors before he turns pro. Unless he progresses a ton this coming season, I expect him to spend at least a year in San Diego before getting some time with the Ducks. Given how close they are as friends, it would be great to see Morand and Comtois develop together with the Gulls before coming to the Ducks. Given that Morand plays center, the Ducks can afford to let him develop over the next couple of seasons and shouldn’t feel the need to rush him to the NHL. So I’d say he’s probably at least two years away from making his NHL debut, and three or four years away from a shot at a full time NHL job.
Morand signed his entry-level deal with the Ducks back in May, and he’ll be a restricted free agent when it’s over. That contract won’t begin until he turns pro, so unless he plays 10 games or more with the Ducks this coming season, he won’t be a restricted free agent for another four years. When his contract does expire, I fully expect the Ducks to re-sign him. He’ll likely get a short bridge deal for a couple of years.
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August 30th, 2018