The Chicago Blackhawks are gearing up for a tough month by adding a little depth at center. GM Stan Bowman acquired veteran center Brendan Morrison from the Calgary Flames for defensemen Brian Connelly.
With Jonathan Toews and sometimes-center Patrick Sharp on the mend – not to mention Dave Bolland’s frequent tendency to get hurt – it makes plenty of sense to add Morrison to the mix, especially at a minimal cost. It’s unclear if this is a sign that Toews might need more than the All-Star break to heal up, though.
My first instinct was to think that Morrison might help on the PK merely because of where he’d fit into the depth chart, but he certainly wasn’t piling up much shorthanded time in Calgary (less than nine minutes overall this season). He’s a decent faceoff guy (50.3 percent success rate) and scored 40+ points in each of the 2009-10 and 10-11 seasons.
It’s not a big move by any means, but I’d bet Bowman thinks of Morrison as another John Madden (although, again, Morrison doesn’t bring the same defensive game to the table). The Blackhawks can’t afford to go into February with a threadbare roster as they start a brutal eight-game road trip in Vancouver on Tuesday.
The best part for Chicago is that they have plenty of cap room left after having little breathing room the past two seasons. They’ll have a little under $13 million remaining under the ceiling even with Morrison in the fold.
Connelly is a 25-year-old minor league defenseman with some offensive skills – at least at the AHL level – so the Flames can say that they got younger. The real question is if they’ll make more veteran-for-prospect-type moves as the trade deadline approaches.