Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Give me Brenden Morrow not Dustin Penner

Heading into this year's NHL Trade Deadline, rumour was the Los Angeles Kings were in hot pursuit of Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla. If the Kings had been able to pull off such a move, in my mind, Dustin Penner would have been a perfect fit for the Edmonton Oilers. Acquiring a player like Dustin for a playoff push is one thing but bringing him on board from the start of the season, is something completely different.

There is no question he would help fill the Oilers need for another top six winger but there is also little doubt, that at some point, Penner will dog his way through an 82 game regular season. It's not a knock on the player but rather reality. Good ol' #27 plays his best when the chips are down and unfortunately for this team, they still have to learn how to win games during the season.

Over the last 24 hours, courtesy of Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer, fans have been speculating on whether or not Penner would be a good fit for the 2013-14 campaign. An interesting debate but one that should frankly be a moot point, as the guy Craig MacTavish should be targeting to fill the role of a second line left winger is still available in the open market. That player being none other than former Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow.

At thirty-four years of age, Morrow is no longer the player he was during his hey day with the Stars but he is still more than capable of contributing to a hockey club. Like many players across the league, he had a bit of an off year in 2013, scoring just 12 times in 44 games with the Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins, but was still on pace for yet another twenty goal campaign.

While he wasn't much of a factor for the Penguins during the playoffs, it was revealed later on, that he was playing on a split kneecap throughout the post-season. His grit, determination and leadership skills were never in doubt during his time in Dallas and he still appears willing to do whatever necessary, to help his team win hockey games.

The former twenty-fifth overall pick of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, still plays a physical brand of hockey and continues to get under the skin of many an opponent. The former Portland Winterhawks standout doesn't back down from anyone and is always willing and able, when it comes to protecting one of his teammates. He has always been fairly sound defensively and has the ability to play anywhere in the lineup.

For a team starving to add a player who can put pucks in the net and play a physical style of game, not sure how Morrow doesn't fit the bill. Frankly, it would not shock me to see him have bounce back with a huge year, playing alongside Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or the more likely scenario of lining up beside Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov.

Not surprisingly, word is the Detroit Red Wings have interest in the thirteen year NHL vet but the Wings have just over $2 million in cap space. Typically, a player in Morrow's situation will be looking for either a multi-year extension or chance at going to a contender and winning a Stanley Cup. While Edmonton could provide him with neither, they could ultimately offer him a bit of both, in a roundabout sort of way.

MacTavish and the Oilers are more than capable of offering up a large ticket on a one year deal, not unlike the one Iginla signed with Boston Bruins. Should they dangle a $4-$5 million offer in front of the native of Carlyle, Saskatchewan, he would have to seriously consider it. Say he jumps at such a deal and Edmonton's season doesn't go as planned, you can bit he would be moved to a contender at the Trade Deadline. However, should the Oilers find their way into a potential playoff spot, Morrow would have likely played a key role, only further increasing his value on the unrestricted market in 2014.

I have said it before, here, and I stand by it now. On a short-term deal, the Edmonton Oilers and Brenden Morrow are a perfect fit for each other. The player gets both financial security and an opportunity to play alongside some highly skilled linemates, while the organization brings in a guy who fills a glaring need and can help provide leadership, to a group that just lost the services of their long standing captain.

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