Growing up in Calgary, Josh Morrissey and his close friend Hunter Shinkaruk dreamed of going on to play in the National Hockey League.
"Hunter and I played bantam together and we became pretty good friends," says Morrissey, referring to the Medicine Hat Tigers left wing. "We only live like five minutes apart in Calgary so we know each other pretty well. We dreamed of going on to play in the NHL and who knows even playing together."
Now at age 17, their childhood dreams seem poised to turn into realities. Both young guns are regarded as future first-round picks of the upcoming draft. Morrissey turned heads left and right for the Prince Albert Raiders last year as a rookie, notching 10 goals and 38 points in 68 games from the back end. Meanwhile, Shinkaruk didn't do too badly for himself with the Medicine Hat Tigers, scoring 49 goals and 91 points as a sophomore.
"It would be a dream of mine to play in the NHL one day. And obviously for Hunter as well, "says Morrissey. " It's hard to believe we've went this far in hockey since playing together at 14 and 15."
NHL's Central Scouting Service recently ranked Morrissey as an A-list prospect in their preliminary rankings, meaning they peg him as a top-30 prospect of the 2013 draft class.
"It's nice to get noticed by Central Scouting and other media companies," says Morrissey. "I try not to pay a lot of attention to stuff like that, though. I just want to keep on working to build on my season from last year."
Morrissey has drawn some comparisons to Moose Jaw Warriors star Morgan Rielly, who was selected No. 5 overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2012 draft. Similar to Rielly, Morrissey is a slick-skating defender who can dictate the speed of the game. He has really impressed on the power play, being nearly impossible to contain with the puck on his stick.
The 6-foot, 184-pounder started this season right where he left off last year, posting three assists throughout two games. Morrissey, as well as many scouts and reporters, believes he is set to breakout in his second season with the Raiders.
"I'd like to score between 60 and 70 points this year," says Morrissey. "I want to continue to grow and become better on 5-on-5 and special teams."
Despite his young age, he is extremely mature, possessing an unselfish, outgoing personality. His strong character is a major reason why the Raiders named him an assistant captain this year.
"It's all about winning as a team," says Morrissey. "The points will come with wins. I'm really happy with how we started out with a win and a OT point in our first two games against the (Saskatoon) Blades. We should be able to build off this good start and keep the wins coming. This group is really focused on getting into the playoffs this year and doing something while we're there."
1. How would you describe yourself as a player?
"I'm a two-way player. I pride myself on my defensive play. Some guys think just because you are good offensively that you can't be good defensively. But I think I excel at both ends of the ice."
2. Who is your favourite NHL team?
"The Calgary Flames. I grew up in Calgary so I watched and followed them when I was young."
3. Do you try to model your game after a defenceman in the NHL?
"I really like [Minnesota Wild's] Ryan Suter, [Ottawa Senators' Norris Trophy winner] Erik Karlsson, and [retired Detroit Red Wings captain] Nicklas Lidstrom. I really like how they play at both ends of the ice. Obviously, they can move the puck and play strong in their own end. I want to be a guy who is known for being really good offensively and defensively."
4. Whom do you room with on the road? And do they do anything that annoys you?
"I've been rooming with [Chicago Blackhawks prospect] Mark McNeill and [overage centre] Anthony Bardaro. Those guys are great to room with. But you know, we have our arguments and sometimes food is stolen. But for the most part, nothing they do drives me crazy."
5. Has the CHLPA contacted you?
"They haven't contacted me. I don't know too much about it. And I'm not too worried about it."
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen