Two For Ontario? Thoughts from Strand & Morrison from Development Camp

Defenseman Austin Strand and forward Brad Morrison are two players that could make the jump to the professional ranks during the 2018-19 season. Both players signed with the Los Angeles organization as free agents and both players are coming off of strong 2017-18 campaigns in the juniors ranks.

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Strand, who signed an entry-level contract in November during last season, ranked second in the WHL in goals by a defenseman with 25 tallies from the blueline. Strand’s 25 goals and 64 points were the most by a Seattle defenseman during the 2017-18 season and the 6-3 blueliner now has four full WHL seasons under his belt. Strand has skated in at least 50 games during each of his four seasons of major-junior hockey and his offensive explosion during the 2017-18 campaign came after three seasons with less than 20 points scored, a big jump for the big blueliner.

On approaching his first NHL development camp
I didn’t really know what to expect but I’ve had a really good time so far. I got to know some of the guys up in Ontario and seeing most of those guys again here has been nice to reconnect and hang out, just see them for a little bit over the summer. It’s been a really good time here.

On what he learned over the course of the week
It was a good camp, we learned a lot. We had a lot of morning meetings about defensive zone positioning and learning those sorts of things with [Mike O’Connell] and [Sean O’Donnell], those guys have a lot of experience so you just try to soak as much of what they tell you as you can. I learned a lot in that zone and got my feet under me, getting two ice times per day and getting some good scrimmages in, I thought we had some really high paced scrimmages and everyone looks like they will be ready come training camp.

On being able to work with experienced NHL defensemen like Mike O’Connell and Sean O’Donnell
It’s unreal. This is my first experience here and I had heard that this is just top notch. Always listening to those guys as much as I can and just being a sponge, soaking in everything they say. I think [O’Donnell] has 1,200 games and [O’Connell] is up there too and that’s impressive. To do that, you have to do a couple of things right for sure so you just soak in as much as you can of what they tell you.

On how he describes his own style of play
I’m an all-around defenseman, a solid two-way guy. If the offense comes that’s great but I’m mostly trying to be a reliable guy on the back end, doing what I can on the power play and capitalize on my opportunities when I can.

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Morrison signed his entry-level contract on May 1, 2018 after he spent the 2017-18 season split between Vancouver and Lethbridge of the WHL. The 6-0 forward amassed 35 points (11-24-35) from 42 games with Vancouver but exploded for 40 points (16-24-40) from 32 games played with Lethbridge, in addition to a whopping 37 points (16-21-37) from just 16 games during the 2018 WHL Playoffs. Despite the Hurricanes only advancing to the third round of the playoffs, Morrison led the entire playoffs in scoring and his 37 points were the most in a single WHL postseason since 2002.

On his experience throughout the week at development camp
It was good. In the past, with camps I’ve been to, they were a lot more conditioning based and as far as skating and testing wise here it was a lot of fun. The development was tough out there on the ice but I think we learned a lot of stuff. The way the development staff approaches has been second to none and I’m happy to be with the organization.

On whether he approaches this camp differently with the possibility that pro hockey is on the horizon
Anytime that you get sent to a different team you approach the situation differently. For myself, I’ll go back from here and have a good summer working out, getting as much ice as I can and come into training camp as strong as I can. Coming in as a guy that could get sent back, there are a lot of different feelings towards the camp and I think knowing that I can make the step this year will be much different and I’m excited.

On how he describes his own style of play
I’m more of an offensive player. I’ve got a good stick and I try to use that to my advantage. With the way that the game is going now, there are a lot of fast guys out there and I feel like I’m fitting in pretty well. I feel confident out there and I’ll have to keep that up.

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