Top 25 Under 25: #11 Morgan Ellis

Harry How

Morgan Ellis is the most improved played in the Habs system, can he push even harder in Hamilton and break the Habs roster soon?

The highest riser in the EOTP's top 25 under 25 during the past 2 seasons. 2 years ago he was an afterthought, last year he was on the fringes of the 25, now he is in an honourable place in the top half of the 25.

The cause of Morgan's meteoric rise is quite simple. He's improved at a steady pace in the QMJHL to the point were he has gone from being considered a nondescript prospect with an unexciting game that not many people particularly cared about to a safe prospect with and unexciting game that many people think has a good chance of being an NHL regular.

In particular, a lot of the misgivings about Ellis were put to rest when he was traded from his terrible Cape Breton squad where he was by far the best skater to the Memorial Cup Championship team in Shawinigan. Finally having effective forwards to play with, Ellis's offensive stats exploded and he even out paced his new team-mate, the highly touted 1st round pick and Team Canada WJC defender Brandon Gormley.

Ellis_medium

Player Berkshire Cooper Peter Boyle Van Steendelaar Dahan Ives Boucher La Rose Rice
Ellis 11 12 9 13 8 10 8 12 14 11

Ellis was pretty much a consensus pick. Say what you will about our other disagreements, we're pretty clear on what the relative value of a good graduating CHL position player.

Point per game offensive play in the CHL isn't spectacular but it is a very encouraging sign. Its not a level of performance that screams future NHL offensive defender but is as good as or better than the CHL scoring of the bulk of NHL defensemen who played in the CHL at 19 years of age. Its especially good for a player that doesn't rely on offense to contribute like Ellis, whose really more of a defensive D with some puck moving skills. Although the impact of playing on a top notch squad like Shawinigan can't be ignored either.

Strengths: Ellis's best attribute is his defensive acumen, which draws comparisions to current Habs shutdown defender Josh Gorges. He's not overtly physical, but can throw a check and has the size and strength to win battles. At 6'2" this should continue to be the case in professional leagues. Ellis isn't particularly creative on offense, but passes well and has a decent shot. He should have reasonably good ability to help out on even strength offense.

Weakness: Ellis does not look like a defender that controls the ice on his own, especially on offense. Most observers believe he'll have a limited offensive upside at the NHL level. Ellis does not have the overall skill set that projects to be a top level defenseman.

Projection: Ellis has the upside to be a similar top 4 defender to Josh Gorges. He is a good bet to be at least a bottom pairing defender in the NHL. Eliis should spend the next season in the AHL in Hamilton and is considered to be about 1.5-2 seasons from making the NHL.

#12: Michael Bournival #11: Morgan Ellis #10: Sebastian Collberg
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