photo courtesy Deena Jones/Tri-City Americans
It’s not uncommon for a player to go undrafted the first year they are eligible for the NHL draft, only to pop up on the radar the following season. Yet those players are usually taken in the later stages. Tri-City Americans’ 1998-born forward Morgan Geekie has played himself into a truly rare situation. He went undrafted in the 2016 NHL draft but has now found himself ranked 50th by NHL Central Scouting in their midterm rankings of North American skaters.
Geekie, who is from the small town of Strathclair, Manitoba has 29 goals and 40 assists for 69 points in 55 games so far this season. He agreed when asked if being passed over has given him extra motivation this year.
“Yeah, definitely. I didn’t put too much thought into it last year but I definitely have used it as motivation this year and work harder out there.”
The production that he has put up, which includes nine points over his last four games, is becoming too much for any NHL scout to ignore.
“I put that in the back of my mind. I have a team-first mentality and we have a really good group of guys here. We’ve got some really good players on this team. It’s not just me that’s producing. Everyone is putting in work so it’s been good for everybody.”
Good for everybody indeed as Tri-City is on pace for their best season since 2011-12. Geekie is quick to cite the Americans’ leadership as a key to their success.
“It’s good. We have great captaincy, we have great leadership in all of our seasoned A(assistant captain)’s. They bring a lot to the table. A lot of calm, cool and collected attributes and they bring it every night. It’s a good standard for them to set and it’s great for the rest of us.”
Geekie and the Americans are reaping the rewards of a tough decision made during his 16-year-old season two years ago. He played just nine games with Tri-City after starting the season playing in both the MMHL with the Yellowhead Chiefs and the MJHL with the Neepawa Natives.
“It was a team decision. I didn’t know if I felt quite ready enough to play at this level yet. It’s a really good league with a lot of older players. It’s really special to come in and play as a 16-year-old and I think it was better for my development to play another year of midget back home.”
Though he played just two games in Junior A, it was a good learning experience as well.
“I played a couple games in Neepawa and it was a good taste. It was a little faster game and it was a great stepping stone from midget to the WHL.”
Since he is from Manitoba, he had a special reason to enjoy his team’s recent 6-0 run through the WHL’s East Division.
“It was good. Weather was a little colder but it was fun to get to see your friends and family.”
Geekie had 10 points over the six-game trip and he is quick to credit Mike Williamson and the rest of the Americans’ coaching staff for his breakout season.
“The coaching staff has been really good. They have let me get the confidence and get the opportunity. I’m trying to take it in stride and just learn as I go from all of the older guys. As long as I keep learning things; it will go well for both me and the team.”
He also says he has learned a lot from the rest of his teammates. This includes five other players listed on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list. Though they share a lot with each other it’s all about what happens on the ice for all of them.“You get to share your experience with your teammate but it stays on the down-low. It does not get talked about too much. We all pull together and it’s a team effort before anything else. We try to leave our individual success behind.”
The six-foot-foot-two centre knows what he needs to concentrate on improving this year.
“Specifically my skating. That’s probably the big thing. I also need to improve at playing well in both ends of the ice as well. Playing well at both ends is a really hard thing to do.”
He knows that getting to play against the elite centres in the league like Seattle’s Mathew Barzal is an opportunity to improve this area of his game.
“It’s definitely tough He’s a really good player. He has played at the next level. It’s good to learn from him and others and try to improve yourself when you play and line up against them at the face off dot. You just have to take it in stride and stick to your game.”
Geekie’s breakout season has forced the NHL’s scouts to take notice and if his production keeps going at this rate he will find himself hearing his name called in Chicago far earlier than anyone expected back in October when he was far off the radar.