Brendan Morrison is in his 14th NHL season and in all that time - of being both a star and a good foot soldier - he has never gone deeper than two rounds in the playoffs. All that could change this year, however, after the Chicago Blackhawks picked up Morrison from the Calgary Flames Friday night in exchange for minor-league defenceman Brian Connelly.
In Morrison, 36, the Blackhawks get a short-term fix at centre, where they currently have two mainstays, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, out with wrist injuries. Morrison’s versatility is what made him effective for Calgary in a little over a year and a half in the Flames’ organization and is presumably also what made him attractive to the Blackhawks. Well-liked for his professionalism, Morrison can play up or down the depth chart, depending upon need - and for a Chicago team playing mix-and-match with its secondary forwards, he looks as he will be a good fit.
Morrison spent the prime years of his career with the Vancouver Canucks, and for Chicago to get to another Stanley Cup final, the road will likely lead through Vancouver at some point this season.
As for Connelly, he signed with the Blackhawks as a free agent in June of 2009 and has been playing for their minor-league affiliate in Rockford, where he was selected to play in the AHL all-star game. The Flames believe that Connelly, at 25, still has NHL potential. Organizationally, he fills a void caused by the deal that sent Brendan Mikkelson to Tampa for centre Blair Jones earlier this month. Jones’s acquisition essentially paved the way for Morrison’s departure.
In a statement, Flames general manager Jay Feaster said they made the deal because they thought it would be “difficult for us to find a spot for Brendan or get him significant ice-time going forward. Given his pending UFA status and the fact that we were not going to re-sign him, we felt it important to try to move him for another asset. In Brian Connelly we obtain a 25-year-old highly skilled AHL All-Star defenseman who is still a legitimate prospect. We are excited to have Brian in the organization.”