Sunday, 1 September 2013

Should the Canadiens sign Brenden Morrow?

After being quiet for a few weeks and driving some fans to despair, Marc Bergevin finally allayed some fears and plugged a few holes by acquiring free agent defenceman Douglas Murray on a one-year contract.  Now, there are tenuous rumours that veteran left-winger, former Olympic gold-medallist and Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow might be brought into the fold too.

This latest rumour is based on a tip received by a Québec blogger that Marc Bergevin has offered Brenden Morrow a try-out at training camp, but no contract.  While considering this, it's important to remember that Mr. Morrow is married to a local girl, who happens to be Guy Carbonneau's daughter.

Be that as it may, and factoring in that he's recovering from a broken kneecap suffered last season, I still have a hard time believing that he'd accept a training camp tryout offer.  He hasn't lost that much luster.  He's probably without a contract because he's refusing to do what Douglas Murray or Jarome Iginla did, which is accept a one-year deal.  If he told his agent he would take a one-year contract for a reasonable amount, he'd get signed somewhere, wouldn't have to resort to an NHL-tryout like he was Darryl Boyce or Cam Barker or someone like them, a fringe player hanging on to his career.

Spontaneously, an equivalence is set up in our minds that picking up Brenden Morrow might mean trading away Travis Moen.  It makes sense.  It's almost an inevitable conclusion.  There are already 24 players signed on the Grand Club, including Jarred Tinordi and Alexei Emelin, but not including Gabriel Dumont, who I think has to be on the roster to platoon on the fourth line with Ryan White.  Adding Mr. Morrow would bring us to 25, and the roster limit is 23.  Sure, Alexei Emelin wouldn't count for a couple of months on IR, so that takes care of one slot, but we're still over, and have to fit in Mr. Dumont.  So one of the forwards would have to be traded, and it would almost necessarily be Travis Moen.

Brenden Morrow is more talented, can score goals and play on a third line, or second line in a pinch, and would alleviate the problems, or rather the lack options we have on left wing.  Yes he's slow, but he's smart and a good player and has character and leadership skills.  He can play when the going gets rough.  About the only fly in the ointment would be that P.K. would have to kiss and make up with him.

Both Travis Moen and Brenden Morrow play left wing, both can throw hits and play physical, but Mr. Morrow has more talent and can be used in an offensive role or on the powerplay as well as kill penalties, despite his declining foot speed.  So he's an upgrade on Travis Moen, especially if Travis doesn't want to drop the gloves any more.

Not that I'm part of the crew that wants to run him out of town after a poor season, I think to 'get rid' of a 6'2", 220 lbs left winger when we're looking for help on the left wing and in the size and toughness department is paradoxical to say the least.  While he may not have met expectations in the lockout season, I'm prepared to give him a mulligan, and understand that the concussion injury he suffered at the end of the 2012 season played a role in that, both mentally and physically.

Maybe Travis' game has regressed slightly, to the point where you can't really use him as a third or second-liner in a pinch, that he's now purely a fourth-liner.  And if his heart isn't into trading punches with opposition tough guys as a 31-year old father who wants to avoid another brain injury, I understand that.  But it reduces his value in today's NHL a further notch.

That doesn't make him a pawn or untradeable though.  He's still a big winger, and in today's NHL that's gold.  He hasn't shrunk.  He's not a sniper who can't score anymore, or a player who has off-ice issues.  His contract, which some people think is such an anchor, is actually quite manageable at a cap hit of $1.85M.  There'll be teams out there who'll be interested, where he'd be a good fit.  They'll bank on his past performance in the playoffs and hope he can replicate that to some degree.  The Canucks, for example, have no one of any caliber at all to play on their fourth line, their third is a mishmash.  Travis Moen would be a huge upgrade for them.  If the Oilers believed that he could get back to his banging crashing ways, they'd love to bring the Prairie boy onto their roster to help shepherd the kids.

So yeah, I'd love to add Brenden Morrow to our roster.  We'd be a much better team.  And if it means trading away Travis Moen, selling his him 'low' as it were, after a poor season, so be it.  We'll find a taker for the big lug, hopefully in the Western Conference.

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