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Numbers Game: Stars, Penguins swap Morrows

Scott Cullen
3/24/2013 10:02:41 PM
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In a deal involving two Morrows, the Penguins added a veteran for their playoff push, while the Stars brought in a highly-regarded defence prospect.

Numbers Game looks at the deal sending Brenden Morrow to Pittsburgh and Joe Morrow to Dallas.

The Penguins Get: LW Brenden Morrow and a third-round pick.

Morrow, 34, got off to a miserable start this season (It's almost like he was a veteran in his mid-30s who hadn't played since last April), recording two assists and two shots on goal through the first nine games of the year.

Then injuries started to take their toll on the Stars' forward lines and, as it worked out for Morrow, Ray Whitney was sidelined with a broken foot after the eighth game of the season. This allowed Morrow to move back into a top six role, where he's spent much of the past decade, and it was based on necessity more than anything he had shown through the first couple weeks of the season. But, with more ice time, Morrow started to produce; at least a little.

From Game 10 through Game 23, Morrow scored six goals and three assists, posting a minus-2 rating, while playing at least 15 minutes in 11 of those 14 games. However, he's currently mired in a six-game pointless streak, leaving him with six goals, five assists, a minus-8 rating and 31 shots on goal, while playing a career-low 14:55 per game, in 29 games this season.

Given his current level of production, Morrow might be a better fit on the Penguins' third line, but they have a need for a winger alongside Evgeni Malkin and James Neal (whose most common linemates this year have been Zach Boychuk, Beau Bennett, Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy, according to www.leftwinglock.com), so it figures that Morrow will get a chance to play and produce in that spot. He's a seven-time 20-goal scorer, so it's not as though he's unfamiliar with what to do if he gets the puck around the net.

Morrow is a banger who has lost a step or two after years of battling in the corners, but the Penguins are hoping that he'll be re-energized playing for a contender. (In his last playoff appearance, 2007-2008, Morrow has a career-high nine goals and 15 points in 18 games.)

Morrow comes at a $4.1-million cap hit this season, but is an unrestricted free agent in the summer, all the more reason for him to be motivated to produce down the stretch and through the postseason.

The Stars Get: D Joe Morrow and a fifth-round pick.

A 20-year-old defenceman that the Penguins drafted 23rd overall in 2011, Joe Morrow is in his first pro season and put up four goals, 11 assists, a minus-7 rating and 97 shots on goal in 57 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

Morrow should be expected to fill a top-four role on the Stars defence, joining other young blueliners Brenden Dillon and Jamie Oleksiak, but there's no need to rush him into that role either. He could get a look this season, but it may be a year or two before he's really ready for a significant NHL role.

Losing Brenden Morrow isn't as significant to the Stars this season as it would have been in previous years. As long as they have Whitney and Loui Eriksson to handle the top two left wing slots on the depth chart, rookie Antoine Roussel and veteran Eric Nystrom should fill out the other two spots on the left side.

There isn't a major difference between the third and fifth-round draft picks, but it speaks to the appeal of Joe Morrow as a prospect that the Stars were willing to include a pick in Pittsburgh's direction.

For a Stars team that isn't contending right now, the chance to add a high-quality prospect does make sense in the long run while Pittsburgh makes a short-term investment, paying the price necessary as they try to enhance their chances for a Stanley Cup run this year.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.



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