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IceCaps Player Profile: Morgan Ellis is St. John's number one defender

A shot of confidence was all this two-way defenceman needed to shine.

St. John's IceCaps / Jeff Parsons

Morgan Ellis started his career in 2008, when he was drafted in the third round of the QMJHL draft by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and stayed a permanent part of the Eagles for five seasons.

In 2010, the Montreal Canadiens drafted him 117th overall, in the fourth round of the NHL Entry Draft. That same year, he became the team captain and top defenceman for the 2010-11 season with the Eagles. In 65 games, he tallied 34 points (eight goals, 28 assists) — both tops among Cape Breton defencemen.

After impressing in the Canadiens training camp the following year, Ellis returned as captain to the Eagles and began his breakout junior season.  After recording 25 points in 34 games with Cape Breton, he was picked up by the Shawinigan Cataractes, where he added 27 points in 26 games, had a plus-21 goal differential, and was named the QMJHL's Best Defensive Defenceman.

During his time in the QMJHL, Ellis became known for his 10-foot passes, but also showed his impressive wrist shot from the point. He displayed the qualities needed for a two-way defenseman, getting involved in the plays and asserting himself when required.

In 2012, Ellis signed a three-year entry-level contract with Montreal, but his move to their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, didn't go as smoothly as some of his graduating teammates of that same season. Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi seemed to step seamlessly into the AHL, but Ellis wasn't producing as well as he did in the QMJHL, and his confidence was starting to waver.

During the 2012-13 season, he appeared in 71 games; the most among Bulldogs defencemen, despite a nagging groin injury. After two and half seasons with the Bulldogs, Ellis was not only nearing the end of his contract, he found himself re-assigned to the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL. Two months in, Ellis was a staple on the power play and penalty kill units and was the Nailers' number one defenseman.

In 39 games, Ellis racked up 26 points with creative plays and finishes and found himself being called back up to the Bulldogs, and rewarded with a one-year contract extension.

Playing with the new Canadiens AHL affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps, Ellis continues to improve in every area of the game - his quickness, his physicality, even his size and strength. Thanks to his disciplined work habits, he's found himself being one his team's best players yet again. He comes in at number 12 in AHL Top Defencemen, he has the highest plus/minus rating of any IceCap at plus-nine, and his 30 points are fifth-best on the team.

"My game is to make sure things are clean in the defensive zone. If there's no play there, just chip 'er off the glass. Nothing too risky. It's nice to get points, but I'm not concerned about those types of numbers." says Ellis.

When one of the IceCaps top defensemen, Mark Barberio, was recalled to the Canadiens and never looked back, Ellis stepped up with stellar defensive plays. So much so, that when Barberio was selected for the 2016 AHL All-Star Game but was unable to attend, Ellis was next on the list to represent the St. John's IceCaps, along with his fellow teammate, Michael McCarron.

Once the injury craze of the 2015-16 season comes to a close, the Canadiens blueline will be pretty stacked once again. Ellis' contract is up again at the end of this season and he's proved he is an asset to the club. Now that he has been called up to the Canadiens, he is going to get a real chance to earn another contract from the team.