Trade Rumor Tracker: TSN reports Morrow could be dealt
On November 8th, everything was shining for the Dallas Stars and their longtime captain, left-winger Brendan Morrow. With a 12-3-0 record, they had a pretty perch atop the Western Conference and looked like legit contenders for the 2011-12 playoffs.
Since then, the Stars have stumbled to a 13-18-2 record, leaving them in 10th place in the conference. With their post-season dreams falling out of reach, the rumor-mill began to rumble that Dallas could be sellers for the February 27th NHL trade deadline.
These rumors culminated this week with the report by TSN’s Bob McKenzie that trading the 33 year-old Morrow for assets which could conceivably help them become more competitive for the future was an idea that “the Stars might consider”. McKenzie later tempered his initial declaration by stating a Stars source informed him Morrow would “probably not” be traded by the deadline, but NHL trade-rumor mongers by that time were already off and blogging about the several jerseys we could see Morrow wearing by season’s end.
On Brendan Morrow’s Value:
Passing his physical prime and not exactly defined as a game-breaker, Morrow remains the type of talent that any NHL team would covet, especially for a playoff run. He has twice passed the 30-goal plateau, last year potting a career-high 33. He is rugged and gritty, above-average in both the offensive and defensive zones, and well-reknowned for his character and leadership in the locker room. Morrow is the type of versatile player who can play on the top power play or short-handed unit, who could succeed admirably in a first-line scoring role or a third-line checking role. The Stars’ captain is thought highly enough of in the hockey world to have made the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, no easy task, and is owed a reasonable $4.1 million through next season.
That being said, Morrow is, again, 33 years-old and has played his entire 12-year career in Dallas. His family has roots in Texas and he has a full no-trade clause in his contract. Even if the Stars wanted Morrow to go, Morrow would not have to unless he chose to.
On The State of the Stars:
Dallas was clearly impacted by the free agent departure of top center Brad Richards to the New York Rangers this past off-season. They still can boast an excellent top line with fine puck-distributer Mike Ribeiro centering the extremely talented and vastly underrated wing duo of Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, but the loss of Richards left the club with a lack of depth up the middle. The Stars have had a rough time finding a pivot able to aptly dish the puck to second-line wingers Morrow and Michael Ryder, and that lack of scoring balance has negatively impacted the squad’s place in the standings.
In the prospect pipeline, Dallas’ top talents are players who will help the Stars keep the pucks out of their own net rather than put pucks into opposition nets. Still two-to-three years from making an NHL impact, athletic netminder Jack Campbell looks like a gem and hulking, 6’7″ 240 pound defenseman Jamie Oleksiak is developing rapidly into an intimidating blueline force. Yet where the Stars need help the most, they are lacking, with no projectable top-line talents (despite some depth on the right side with Alex Chiasson, Scott Glennie and Reilly Smith) at wing and virtually no future NHL talent at center.
The Stars have no glaring imminent salary cap issues, with just Eriksson, Steve Ott, Vernon Fiddler, Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley signed past next season and all to reasonable contracts. If GM Joe Nieuwendyk decides the team should become sellers at the deadline, there is a strong chance they offer up impeding unrestricted free agents RW Radek Dvorak and D Sheldon Souray, both of whom would attract interest, but neither of whom could receive a blockbuster return of prospects or draft picks.
Looking Into The Crystal Ball:
Morrow would indeed receive a handsome return if he was shopped in the trade market. Teams would offer up a first-round pick and a very good prospect as they salivated at the idea of adding the Stars’ captain’s talent, versatility, grit and leadership to their rosters. If the Stars find themselves outside looking in come deadline day, it might indeed be wise to swap Morrow for assets which could improve them in the future.
That being said, Morrow is happy in Dallas and has a no-trade clause. There is no reason to presuppose the Stars will not compete in the west next season — this is not a team in need of a full overhaul, but rather a couple of tweaks. There is no reason to suspect that the Dallas franchise and Nieuwendyk are remotely unhappy with Morrow’s performance as both player and captain, and no reason they would be unable to realize that moving him could create negativity in the locker room. Therefore, do not expect Brendan Morrow to change addresses at any point during this season.