Centre Brett Budgell and right-winger Brad Morrissey didn't play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookie tournament in Moncton during the weekend in order to protect their NCAA eligibility.
“Both of these young men have numerous options,” Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said Sunday. “If they want to try and keep their NCAA eligibility, they can’t play a game.”
Both attended the rookie camp and have since returned home, Budgell to St. John’s, N.L., and Morrissey to Seacow Pond. They are expected to make a decision later this week.
Both can return to midget for the upcoming season. Budgell played in Ontario last year while Morrissey was at Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask.
Hulton said the Islanders are not alone as numerous junior teams are awaiting prospects’ decisions and hoping for favourable news.
“We don't believe in high-pressure sales tactics pushing our system. We believe we have a good product and a good organization, so we try to sell those attributes,” he said. “They’re currently weighing options.”
The Islanders drafted Budgell in the second round, 25th overall in June’s draft. Hulton said they envisioned him as a top-10 talent who slipped because of the NCAA factor. They hope the risk pays off.
“Brett looks like more of a Jonathan Toews player,” Hulton said. “He plays extremely hard. His game is very mature for a young player. He’s well-versed away from the puck.”
Hulton called him a bright, methodical kid who is not rushing into a decision and added he respected the family’s decision.
“They have been nothing but professional about it. They have been extremely honest.”
Morrissey was selected in the third round (53rd overall).