Welcome to another summer of Blackhawks’ Future Friday. In this weekly column, we explore some of the prospects in the Blackhawks’ system, and see how far they’ve come in the past year, as well as discuss their future with the club. For our first week, we start with a prospect who had his fair share of time in the NHL this season, but seemingly can’t find a way to ‘stick': Jeremy Morin.
Coming off a season where Morin was one of the Rockford IceHogs’ top guns in 2012-13, expectations were high for the then-22-year old to make a splash at Blackhawks’ training camp. Morin did not disappoint, but in the end, was sent back down the road to Rockford, as the Blackhawks started the season with Jimmy Hayes and Joakim Nordstrom on the wing of their third line, and Ben Smith in a fourth-line role.
In several off-and-on stints with the ‘Hogs this season, Morin finished with 24 goals and 47 points, playing in 47 games. His point-per-game average was highest on the ‘Hogs all season, and only Adam Clendening surpassed Morin’s point total.
When it came to the big club, Morin did a lot of sitting: it was either on the bench, or in the press box. Despite being at the clubs’ disposal for nearly half the regular season, and all of the playoffs, Morin only appeared in a combined 26 games (24-2). When he did dress for the ‘Hawks, he averaged 9:09 of Time On Ice/Game. Some notable names with more TOI/G than Morin: Brandon Bollig, Brad Mills, and college free-agent signing Matt Carey, who averaged 9:38 in two games.
It seems that head coach Joel Quenneville‘s unwillingness to play Morin may cause a rift between the two that stretches into the 2014-15 campaign. At times, Quenneville’s first option when replacing a forward would be #ProjectBrookbank, moving defenseman Sheldon Brookbank into the bottom six, while Morin continued to sit in the press box. Quenneville’s stringent lineup decisions were likely the reason top prospect Brandon Pirri was shipped to the Florida Panthers in return for two draft picks mid-season this year, and losing another youthful, explosive forward would be too much to bear for Blackhawks fans.
In the playoffs, many thought that Morin would get the call over Brandon Bollig, who recorded one point in 15 games, also serving a suspension during the Blackhawks’ playoff run.
Moving forward, something will have to change between Morin, Quenneville, and Blackhawks’ General Manager Stan Bowman, or it will be more of the same next season. The Blackhawks won’t be starving for wingers at training camp next season (barring a off-season shakeup), and it will be even harder for Morin to crack the squad in September, with Smith coming off an impressive season, and Blackhawks’ management desperate to not let a $1.25 million/year contract sit in the press box in Bollig. It could end with Morin donning something other than red, white, and black, but for the 23-year old himself, it’s better than wearing a suit for half the season.
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