Chicago Blackhawks Pick Up Veteran Center Brendan Morrison for Playoff Run

Scott WeldonCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2012

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 03:  Brendan Morrison #8 of the Calgary Flames skates against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on November 3, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Calgary won the game 4-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Brendan Morrison of the Calgary Flames, in the last year of a $1.25 million-per-year contract, has been moved by Flames GM Jay Feaster to Chicago for defenseman Brian Connelly.

The Flames move a 36-year-old center whose role has been reduced in Calgary. Unlikely to re-sign the unrestricted free agent in the offseason, they have managed to realize some value from him while creating a little cap room.

The Chicago Blackhawks pick up a veteran center to help fill in their depth chart at that position behind Jonathan Toews. In turn they give up a career AHL offensive defenseman in 25-year-old Brian Connelly.

Brendan Morrison had his most productive years in Vancouver where he spent a good deal of his time on the No. 1 line between Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund.

He has accepted and adapted to more of a checking role with Anaheim, Dallas, Washington and Calgary over the last three-and-a-half seasons.

He was given the opportunity in Calgary to center the No. 1 line on occasion and still doesn't look out of place in that role. Injury and age have slowed him, but he still managed to put up 43 points in 66 games for the Flames last year.

He is in his 14th season in the NHL and can provide some veteran stability at center. He still wins more face-offs than he loses. He has the versatility to be able to play on any line.

He joins a team with a legitimate chance to win a Stanley Cup. This is likely to get the best out of the veteran, who has never won a Stanley Cup.

Brian Connelly is a 25-year-old offensive defenseman in his fourth year with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL. He was never drafted but signed by Chicago in 2009 after his junior year at Colorado College.

He has 36 points in 44 games so far this year. A smallish (5'11", 185 lbs) defenseman with a big shot, he could get a look in Calgary. He will start with Calgary's AHL farm club the Abbotsford Heat.  

While not the prototypical Flame defenseman, he could get a chance this year or next to quarterback a Flames power play that currently is 18th in the NHL, with a 17.4-percent success rate.

This looks like a classic trade of a veteran in the last year of his contract for a younger player with potential. Both teams could benefit from this deal as they try to fill their much-different needs. Chicago needs veteran depth for a playoff run. Calgary needs more young prospects.