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Prospect Update: Antoine Morand
By Thomas Harrington
A second-round pick from 2016, Antoine Morand just completed his final year of junior hockey and should be a member of the San Diego Gulls this coming season.
Morand played for the Halifax Mooseheads this past season. It was his first season playing for Halifax, and he was the team’s captain. His numbers dropped a little bit from the previous two seasons, but his offensive output was pretty consistent through his past three seasons of junior hockey. In the 2016-2017 season he had 74 points in 67 games, in the 2017-2018 season he had 76 points in 66 games, and this past season he had 70 points in 62 games. While it’s unfortunate his point total dropped this past season, if he had played in more games, he probably would have matched his point total from the previous season. In the playoffs, Morand appeared in 23 games and recorded 15 points. In the second round, Morand and his teammate, fellow Anaheim prospect Benoit-Olivier Groulx, faced off against Max Comtois and the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Morand and Groulx came out on top against Comtois. The Mooseheads made it to the QMJHL Championship but lost to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in six games.
Despite losing in the QMJHL Championship, Halifax still played at the Memorial Cup because they were this year’s host. In the round-robin portion of the tournament, the Mooseheads went 2-1 and qualified for the championship game. In the Memorial Cup Final, they had a chance for some revenge as they played against the Huskies. However, Rouyn-Noranda came out on top, winning the championship 4-2. Morand played in all four games and scored three goals and four points in the tournament. His three goals were tied for the team lead, while his four points were third on Halifax.
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Unfortunately, Morand fell short of the expectations that I set for him a year ago. I wanted to see 30 goals and 80 points out of him. His 22 goals and 70 points were close but didn’t quite make it. I also wanted him to play for Team Canada at the World Juniors. Last summer, Morand was invited to Team Canada’s World Junior Showcase, and that was a good sign, but he ended up not being chosen for the team. The final thing I wanted was for Morand and Groulx to build some chemistry. They played well together, but the ultimate test for this expectation will come in the future when we hopefully see them playing together in Anaheim.
Morand will turn pro this year and should be joining the San Diego Gulls. With an amazing training camp, and a weak camp from Sam Steel, Isac Lundestrom, and others, he has a very outside shot of making it to the NHL this season, but I’m pretty sure that he’ll spend the year in the AHL.
It’s not uncommon for junior players to struggle when they first to turn pro, so I don’t have huge expectations for Morand this year. However, I still want him to be one of San Diego’s top three centers this coming season. I’d also like him to score anywhere from 10 to 20 goals, as well as 35+ points. Those aren’t huge numbers, but they’d be a pretty good rookie season for him. One more thing: if Comtois spends some time in San Diego this season, I’d love to see these two friends play together on the same line.
Morand’s entry-level deal will begin this season, and he’ll be a restricted free agent in three years when it’s up. While he’s not one of Anaheim’s top center prospects, especially after this past draft, he’s still a good prospect who can have a solid NHL future. It will be interesting to see how he and the rest of Anaheim’s center prospects develop and what kind of contract he gets in three years.
The next prospect update will be on Lukas Dostal.
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August 1st, 2019