No, this isn’t another post about “intangibles” or “veteran leadership.” Here are three reasons why the Penguins’ acquisition of Brenden Morrow might turn out to be a brilliant move.
1). The Penguins Weren’t Paying for Grit or Veteran Leadership. Some hockey pundits were immediately confused about why the Penguins would give up a solid defensive prospect for a former captain who looks to be on the downside. They only answer they can come up with is the tried and true cliche of “veteran leadership.” The problem with this explanation is that the Penguins don’t need veteran leadership. The core of this team has already made two appearances in the Finals, and won a Stanley Cup. This is not a team that required veteran leadership. (If by grit the experts mean someone who can play the Kunitz role of creating space and digging for pucks, that is a bit more believable.)
2). Morrow Gives The Penguins Exactly What They Needed. Morrow’s shooting percentage is 19.4% this year, and most importantly for the Penguins his offensive opportunities come from in front of the net. If there is one thing that the Penguins could use, it is somebody who plays in front of the net. Morrow doesn’t generate a lot of offensive chances on his own anymore, but on this team, he doesn’t have to. Morrow had played in Dallas with Benn and Jagr, but the difference is that his offensive role in Pittsburgh might be limited to cleaning up rebounds in front of the net for the snipers.
3). The Price Was Right. Much of the national hockey media, and some Penguins fans have been worried about giving up a former first round pick in Joe Morrow, but Ray Shero had no less than 5 top defensive prospects who could be NHL players in his system. Joe Morrow has struggled with his transition to the AHL. He is obviously going to need some developmental time, but with a glut of top defensive prospects coming, space is limited in the organization. The part of the deal that peaked my curiosity was the acquisition of the third round pick from the Stars. This suggest that Shero is not done dealing. That pick will likely help facilitate another deal down the road.
Jarome Iginla is still a valuable player, but acquiring Ingila likely carries a higher asking price, and poses the threat of disrupting team chemistry. Unlike Morrow, you can’t acquire Iggy to put him on the the third line. A player Ingila’s stature requires top 6 minutes, and in case you haven’t noticed, the Pittsburgh Penguins have won 12 games in a row. Now may not be the best time to rock the boat with a major deal. My suspicion is that the cost of losing someone from the Penguins roster along with the changes that Ingila’s presence would require were deemed too potentially disruptive for a team that is currently rolling along.
The Penguins were looking for a forward to come in and fill a very specific role. They think Brenden Morrow is that guy. Whether or not they overpaid for him will be determined by how the team does in the playoffs, and the development of Joe Morrow.