As the trade deadline approaches, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars made a big deal. The Penguins traded defense prospect Joe Morrow and a fifth-round draft pick to acquire Brenden Morrow and a third-round pick.
With this trade, the Penguins have put themselves in an even better position to win the Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh currently sits atop the Eastern Conference and has the best goals per game average in the NHL. James Neal and Chris Kunitz have helped make the Penguins’ power play the second best in the league, too, making them one of the most all-around offensively lethal teams.
Morrow brings more scoring prowess to the Penguins ranks. He has six goals and another five helpers in the 29 games he played with the Stars. He’ll likely be matched with the dangerous duo of Neal and Evgeni Malkin.
If that’s the case, Morrow will add to the combination of size and scoring ability already present. He’ll be able to use his 5’11”, 210-pound frame to create space for both himself and others. Malkin and Neal will be able to do the same for him, too.
With Malkin injured, Morrow will likely play wing with Neal and Brandon Sutter at center. There’s a chance he could follow Sutter back to the third line when Malkin returns. His size would be valuable and he’d add some more scoring depth.
Morrow’s scoring is a welcome addition to a team like the Penguins, but that’s not his only contribution. He also brings veteran leadership to a pretty young team that could be an important intangible in carrying the Penguins far in the playoffs.
It’s clear, in this trade, general manager Ray Shero is thinking about winning the Stanley Cup now and not a few years down the road. Joe Morrow has plenty of upside as a top-four two-way defenseman.
As part of the Penguins franchise, Joe Morrow was still a few years from making his NHL debut. He would have been valuable for them down the road, but trading him for Brenden Morrow may have been the best option in their current Stanley Cup pursuits.
Of course, the Penguins will miss a talented prospect like Joe Morrow. With the likes of Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta in their pool of defense prospects, their blue line is set for years to come.
Acquiring Brenden Morrow could be a move strictly for this year’s playoffs. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Penguins might treat him as a deadline rental.
In fact, they might have to treat him as such. With the salary cap going down $5.9 million, the Penguins might opt not to re-sign Morrow, who is already a $4.1 million cap hit. With such huge contracts to deal with, it might be best if the Penguins let Morrow walk after the playoffs.
Here and now, the Penguins are an even more dangerous team. They’ve won 12 straight games and adding Morrow to the mix can only help. Once Malkin returns, there will be few teams that can stand in Pittsburgh’s warpath.