Morgan Ellis was drafted in 2010, (4th round 117th overall) and put together a very successful junior career with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and the Shawinigan Cataractes. He ended his career with a Memorial Cup victory over the London Knights alongside current Canadiens forward Michael Bournival.
Since then Ellis has cemented himself as a solid player for a young Hamilton Bulldogs team in the past two seasons. While his offensive numbers are never going to blow anyone away, Ellis makes smart plays at both ends of the ice and can be called upon to play in all situations for head coach Sylvain Lefebvre.
Most of our panel voted Ellis within the range of #18 to #25 in our staff rankings with Laura(14th) and Justin(29th) being the biggest outliers. It's challenging to properly rank a player like Ellis who is noted as a defense first player, because he doesn't put up numbers like either Nathan Beaulieu or Magnus Nygren do.
As it has been noted in previous incarnations of the T25U25, Morgan Ellis's biggest asset is his ability to play a solid defensive game and make responsible plays when needed. As a comparable I see him as Hamilton's version of a Mike Weaver or the recently departed Josh Gorges in the sense that he focuses on defense first but can chip in offensively when needed.
While he isn't a dynamic offensive player he possesses a solid first pass and decent stick handling ability though it isn't shown off enough. Standing at 6' 1'' and around 200lbs Ellis is large enough to be a physical presence when needed and this helps him win battles along the boards more often than not.
The biggest knock on Ellis is his lack of offensive numbers. In his rookie season he played alongside AHL journeymen or PTO players, which never really gave him a chance to break out and he posted a meager 8 points in 71 games.
This past year he found himself a healthy scratch at times in favor of Joel Chouinard or Nathan McIver but when he found his place in the line up it was alongside Nathan Beaulieu. Despite playing with the dynamic Beaulieu, Ellis still struggled to produce points which is an issue on a team like Hamilton.
Currently Ellis is caught in a limbo of sorts, where he is established in the AHL but could see himself fall behind players like Darren Dietz and Dalton Thrower this upcoming season. Ellis is a very well rounded blueliner but unfortunately for him he doesn't have any one area that he stands out in. Players like Beaulieu and Nygren have huge offensive potential while Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn can log big minutes in every single game, Ellis has yet to find himself a role like that on the club.
While he is likely to play within the top four of Hamilton's defensive core I find it harder and harder to see where Ellis could potentially fit in the Montreal Canadiens future line up.
He's shown flashes of incredible skill such as skating through the entire Rochester Amerks team and making Patrick Kaleta look silly to score a goal, but he needs to bring that level of play consistently to catch the eye of the Canadiens. With the Bulldogs looking to take a step forward again this year a player like Ellis is one of the guys they'll lean on, as to avoid relying too heavily on rookie skaters.