Stan Bowman, Blackhawks General Manager, got the jump on the rest of the league and gave social media something to talk about on Friday night when he acquired Brendan Morrison. The Blackhawks gave up defensive prospect Brian Connelly in order to get the 36 year old veteran center from the Calgary Flames. Bowman made it seem like this was a move he had wanted to make for a while. It is a low risk maneuver that could pay off and might not.
Morrison is the kind of player that you need to make a long run in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He has plenty of playoff experience, playing in 58 career playoff games with the New Jersey Devils and the Vancouver Canucks. He is a decent faceoff guy and plays a very solid defensive game, which are both welcomed on the Blackhawks. He is no slouch offensively with 601 points (200 G, 401 A) in 923 career games. He will provide a solid veteran presence in the locker room and on the ice.
All of this is gravy if he can stay healthy of course. He has only played in 28 games this year due to a knee injury. Morrison says that the knee is good to go and is “ecstatic” to be joining the Blackhawks, “a team that has as good a chance as any to win the Stanley Cup”. I’d be ecstatic too if I was coming to Chicago from Calgary! Morrison was one of the more reliable players in the league playing in all 82 games for 6 straight seasons, for the Canucks, between 2000-2007. Since the start of the 2007-08 season Morrison has missed a total of 90 games in the last 4 ½ seasons due to various injuries.
Morrison’s career numbers show that he is more of a playmaker and setup man than a goal scorer. That may make you think he would be a natural fit to center the 2nd line between All Star Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. I am sure Coach Q will give him a look on that line, but I am not so sure he has the legs to run with those guys. Remember how slow Andrew Brunette looked when he was paired with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane? Yeah not so much! Knowing Q Morrison will probably play in 837 different line combinations before finding the right fit for him.
Morrison doesn’t seem to hold a grudge against any of his new teammates either. If you remember Niklas Hjalmarsson ended Morrison’s season with a check last March in Calgary. There was some chirping between Morrison and Hawks players on the bench as he left the ice.
If Morrison doesn’t work out the Hawks only had to part with Brian Connelly. Connelly has played well in Rockford for the last couple of years. He has been an AHL All Star the last two seasons. He is the Icehogs all time points and assists leader for defensemen. The Blackhawks, as an organization, are deep at the blue line. Connelly was not our top defensive prospect; he was behind Dylan Olsen on the depth chart. The Blackhawks are still high on Shawn LaLonde and 2011 draft pick Adam Clendening, who is having a good season playing for Boston University.
Morrison was going to get the chance to help some team in the playoffs and better the Blackhawks than anyone else. Believe me when I say this is just the start for Stan Bowman. This will not be his last nor his biggest move before the February 27th trade deadline. Bowman is armed with young talent, draft picks and cap room. The Blackhawks will be a major player at the deadline!