Cary Eades has coached first-round NHL draft picks at nearly every level.

He had T.J. Oshie at the high school level.

He had Kieffer Bellows and Riley Tufte at the junior hockey level.

And he had too many to count during his days at UND -- everyone from Jonathan Toews to Drew Stafford to Travis Zajac to Brock Nelson.

While it's anybody's guess at this point how high defenseman Scott Morrow will go in the 2021 NHL Draft, Eades said he will relish the opportunity to work with the UND-bound blue liner next season with the Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League.

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Morrow said it's his goal to go in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

"The potential is there," said Eades, Fargo's general manager who traded to get Morrow on Tuesday. "We understand the pressures of a draft year and trying to promote the player, but at the same time, protect him as far as his time and focus go. It's something we're very accustomed to. Along with his family, the North Dakota guys and his advising staff, we'll do a good job finding the proper balance.

"As highly thought-of and highly projected as he is right now, those things can change over a year. We want them to trend up. That's our job to do the best we can on and off the ice. In our short discussions we've had with him, he seems very focused, very level-headed and humble. Those things, I think, are going to help him, not only next year but as his career develops."

Eades said that Morrow is a difference-maker offensively.

Last season at Shattuck-St. Mary's, the Darien, Conn., product had 22 goals and 67 points in 46 games.

"He's got a lot of Travis Roche in him," Eades said, referring to the former UND first-team All-American defenseman. "He plays a bit of a rover, which is great this day and age. He's adept defensively as well. He has a good stick and understanding of the game. But he can really add to the offensive game, starting deep in his zone, breaking out pucks and joining the rush. The guys at Shattuck have done a great job developing him."

Eades said Morrow has a lot of characteristics necessary for a defenseman in the modern game.

"In today's game, everybody back-checks so hard," Eades said. "There's so much attention to detail. It's really hard to create offense unless you have mobile defensemen who can, first of all, break out the puck, then join the rush. I think North Dakota has had a number of those guys. We had a number of them on our (2018 Clark Cup) championship team. We'll have that with not only Morrow but with some other guys we drafted as well.

"You've got to have mobility on the back end these days. The big, strong, stay-at-home defenseman is OK -- you can have one or two -- but the rest better be mobile and not only defensemen, but offensemen, as we call it."

UND's trend of offensive defensemen

UND has gone that route with its defensemen for more than a decade now.

UND has ranked in the top five nationally in points by defensemen in eight of the last 10 years -- a stretch that dates back to when Eades was an assistant coach at UND.

The Fighting Hawks have finished first or second nationally six times in 10 years, including last season when they ranked second with 103 points from the blue line. That trailed only Arizona State's 113.

UND's defensive group is expected to be a strength again in 2020-21 as it returns a pair of 25-point scorers in Matt Kiersted and Jacob Bernard-Docker.

Morrow will join UND in 2021-22 after developing for a year in Fargo under Eades, the general manager, and Grand Forks native Pierre-Paul Lamoureux, the head coach.

It actually won't be the first time Eades has worked with a Morrow.

Morrow's father, Steve, attended UND hockey camp back in the 1980s, when Eades was working it.

"We were joking about that on the phone (Wednesday)," Eades said. "He was laughing about how much fun Blaiser (Dean Blais) and I had with the kids."

UND's national rank in points by defensemen

2010-11: No. 2.

2011-12: No. 5.

2012-13: No. 2.

2013-14: No. 1.

2014-15: No. 1.

2015-16: No. 4.

2016-17: No. 19.

2017-18: No. 2.

2018-19: No. 26.

2019-20: No. 2.

UND's committed defensemen

Jake Sanderson, 2020

Tyler Kleven, 2020

Mitchell Miller, 2020

Cooper Moore, 2020

Scott Morrow, 2021

Luke Bast, 2021

Trey Ausmus, TBD