2005-06: Garrison played 40 games as a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Duluth after playing junior hockey in Nanaimo, BC. Garrison scored 3 goals with 9 assists and 26 PIM as the Bulldogs finished ninth in the WCHA with an 11-25-4 mark.
2006-07: Garrison’s sophomore season was a tough one both on and off the ice. After undergoing tonsil surgery and missing few games at the start of the season, he appeared in just 21 games before undergoing season-ending leg surgery. The Bulldogs once again struggled in the WCHA, finishing in ninth place and winning just eleven games. Garrison scored just 1 goal, an overtime game-winner, with 2 assists.
2007-08: Garrison’s third season University of Minnesota-Duluth was a shortened, but productive one. Garrison served as the quarterback of the power play and one of the team’s top defenders as the much-improved Bulldogs battled for playoff position and a potential NCAA berth. However, he suffered a broken leg in early February against Wisconsin, missing all but the final game as the Bulldogs, 11-9-6 at the time of his injury, won just twice in their final ten games with him out of the lineup. Garrison signed a free agent contract with Florida in April, foregoing his final year of college hockey.
2008-09: Garrison made a smooth transition to pro hockey in his first AHL season and was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for last-place Rochester. In 75 games, he score 9 goals (four on the power play), with 27 assists and was -14 with 68 PIM. Garrison made his NHL debut as well, appearing in an early season game against St. Louis as an emergency injury call-up.
2009-10: Garrison had a solid season in his second year with the Panthers, spending most of the second half with the Panthers after spending most of the early season with Rochester. After seeing limited ice time with Panthers in his first stint, Garrison was one of Coach Peter DeBoer’s regulars in March and April in the Panthers’ playoff run that came up short. Garrison scored 2 goals with 6 assists and was +5 with 23 PIM in the 39 games he played with the Panthers. In 38 games with the Amerks, who got off to a hot start and finished second in the North division, Garrison scored 3 goals (all on the power play) with 16 assists and was +13 with 33 PIM. He also returned to Rochester for the playoff series with Abbottsford and had a pair of power play goals with 7 assists and was +3 in the seven games. Garrison was re-signed to a two-year contract by the Panthers in July.
Garrison’s strengths are his exceptional skating ability and passing touch.He has good on-ice awareness and transitional capability. Garrison is adept at contributing to offensive without sacrificing defensive responsibility. Lacks an element of consistent physical play but it’s an area he’s working to improve. Garrison appears very comfortable on the ice and is a free-wheeling defender whose strength is generating scoring chances. He has terrific hockey sense and is an ideal power-play quarterback. Garrison is learning to pick his spots better in terms of generating the attack and continues refining his coverage and positioning – as reflected by the improvement in his plus-minus rating. Despite his size, he does not play a particularly physical game.
Garrison was a special find for the Panthers’ scouting system coming out of college hockey. After struggling with injuries in two of his three-seasons at Minnesota-Duluth, he’s made a smooth transition to pro hockey and appears ready to assume a role with the Panthers for the foreseeable future. He may not have much more upside since he is older than most prospects (he turns 26 in November), but he has value as a puck-moving defenseman.