BREAKING DOWN THE ACQUISITION OF BRENDEN MORROW
When you’re a win-now team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in their prime, you have few untouchables in your system and that’s what we’re seeing here with the Penguins acquisition of 34 year old winger Brenden Morrow in exchange for 2011 first round pick Joe Morrow.
The Penguins also receive a 2013 3rd round pick and Dallas receives a 2013 5th round pick.
How the Penguins operate under GM Ray Shero at the trade deadline is that when they feel they have a specific need, they go out and get it. They’ve done it nearly every year from Gary Roberts in 2007, Marian Hossa, Hal Gill in 2008, Chris Kunitz, Bill Guerin in 2009, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jordan Leopold in 2010 to James Neal in 2011.
What the Penguins saw as a need was adding grit in the top-9 and since last springs playoff debacle, management has felt the need for a veteran locker room presence they have lacked since Bill Guerin.
Shero addressed some of that with the Mark Eaton signing and in Morrow the Penguins are getting an excellent leader who gains the respect of a locker room immediately.
The big question, though, is whether Morrow ends up being Bill Guerin from 2009 or Alexei Ponikarovsky from 2010? This one really could go either way.
What the Penguins are getting in Morrow is a player who will immediately make them tougher to play against in that he adds more grit to the top-9. The Penguins have sought a player to upgrade the third line with Brandon Sutter, Matt Cooke, but also play on Evgeni Malkin’s left wing in certain situations. Morrow gives them that option despite scouts I’ve heard from this month who contend Morrow is no longer second line player he was a few seasons ago when he scored 33 goals.
On what type of impact Morrow could have, one scout I texted felt Morrow could have a Gary Roberts type impact for the Penguins in that he can be a warrior come playoff time giving you 14 to 15 tough/hard minutes per night. The scout felt Morrow could have a fountain of youth in Pittsburgh.
Others, though, question whether he has anything left in the tank. Some nights Morrow brings it and other nights I’m told his body looks like it might be breaking down. Morrow has recently dealt with a groin injury and back injury in the past.
As the Penguins zeroed in on Morrow, they scouted him heavily in the past couple weeks for the sole reason of what he has left in the tank and they obviously feel he has a playoff run left in him.
What the Penguins see in adding Morrow is also a domino effect in the top-12 where if Beau Bennett breaks down they have answers, in addition to possibly playing Tyler Kennedy on the fourth line.
ON TRADING THE FUTURE & ADDING ANOTHER 3RD ROUND PICK
The Penguins trading a top-5 prospect in Joe Morrow was a steep price for a rental player but that’s the going rate on this market.
The ability to move Morrow is evident because of last years selections of Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta, the top-2 rated prospects in the Penguins system. The Penguins stocking of defensemen in the draft is something they feel has more trade value down the road than forwards, which is why they strongly believe in that philosophy, especially puck moving defenseman who are coveted around the league.
Just last summer, there was a feeling around the team that Morrow had star potential but he’s raised some red flags in his development with his play in Wilkes Barre this season. One scout I texted about Joe Morrow doesn’t feel he has star potential, saying “chance to be a No. 5”.
One key element for the Penguins regarding to keep adding at the deadline was receiving the third round pick from Dallas.
The Penguins now have a first round pick, second round pick, (2) third round picks, fourth round pick, sixth round pick, (2) seventh round picks and possibly a third seventh round pick if Carl Sneep plays 10 games with the Stars.
In a deep draft where the Penguins have a first round pick, second round pick and two third round picks among the top three rounds, the Penguins are in a win-win situation and have some ability to now move a second or third round pick for another trade deadline acquisition without really mortgaging the future by any means as the team would still have three picks in the top-three rounds. If they standpat and don’t move any draft picks, they acquire more future assets.