On the same day when the Pittsburgh Penguins made Jarome Iginla's wishlist for his four teams he'd accept a trade to, the Pens chose to go in a different direction, finalizing a trade to bring in Joe Morrow from the Dallas Stars.
The Pens also get a 3rd rounder and ship a 5th rounder over to Dallas, which is fun, because if nothing else, hey Ray Shero got a better draft pick out of the deal against Dallas. I'm sure no one will make fun of the Stars for that, in light of the lopsided Alex Goligoski for James Neal and Matt Niskanen trade.
Morrow, Dallas' captain, has been with the organization since being drafted in 1997. He played 835 games for the team, scoring 528 points and racking up 1,203 penalty minutes. At age 34, he's not an old workhorse like Bill Guerin was in 2009 when he joined the Pens, but it is fair to question, given the high amount of "mileage" on Morrow as to how much he has left.
Going the other way in the deal is defenseman Joe Morrow. He was the Pens first round pick in 2011 and was believed to be among the franchise's untouchable players. At age 20, in his first professional season, Morrow has had his struggles adjusting his defensive game to the speed and skill in the AHL. He's got elite puck skills and skating ability but definitely needs some more work, instruction and developmental time before he can become the top flight player that many scouts believe he can and will be.
Morrow's contract ends after this season and then he's a free agent. What he's thinking about doing after that is probably unknown. He did take a little time to discuss the trade with his agent and family, and his future plans long-term are porbably up in the air. For now, it's about adapting to the first trade of his career and joining up with his new teammates.
Many see Morrow as a fit with James Neal and Evgeni Malkin on the second line. Morrow, much like Chris Kunitz, will be a guy to play hard-nose hockey, drive to the net, win puck battles in the corners and use his physicality to open up more ice for his teammates. On paper, it sounds great.
Morrow's also a long-time captain, a veteran of Team Canada's 2010 gold medal team and known as one of the better leaders and rates highly on the intangible scale, if you are inclined to favor that a lot. He should be a great guy to have "in the room" for the Pens as they go down this stretch drive and prepare for the playoffs.
The Penguins are the highest scoring team in the NHL, they didn't NEED to make this trade. But with all their great young defensive options, is makes sense that they roll the dice and offer one up to help round out the team and really take a shot at a deep playoff run this season. There's no better time than now, and for a team that's currently on an 11 game winning streak, they just found a way to make their current roster that much stronger.We won't really know until late spring if this trade worked out as hoped, but Morrow seems a lot more Guerin than Ponikarovsky in terms of what he should be able to bring to the table.