Newest Penguin Brenden Morrow: "I wanted to be a Dallas Star and win as a Dallas Star."
By Shelly Anderson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It was a tough spot for left winger Brenden Morrow. He was the team captain for the Dallas Stars, the club that drafted him in 1997, but his ice time had dropped some this season.
At the same time, the Penguins were looking to add a hard-nosed forward.
The Stars -- and Penguins -- aligned over the weekend, culminating in a trade Sunday which brought Morrow and a third-round 2013 draft pick to the Penguins.
Dallas got defenseman Joe Morrow, who was a 2011 first-round draft pick, and a fifth-round pick in this year's draft.
It was the first major deal in the NHL leading up to the April 3 trade deadline.
The Stars approached Brenden Morrow Saturday and asked if he would waive a no-trade clause in his contract to facilitate a trade to the Penguins. He took a night to ponder it, talked to his family, then gave it the OK.
"I don't want to quit on my teammates," he said. "I wanted to be a Dallas Star and win as a Dallas Star. But I guess it ruffles your feathers a little when you find out they don't see you as part of their future."
It might not be easy to leave your only NHL team at 34, but Brenden Morrow is looking forward to joining the Penguins, who are in first place in the Eastern Conference. He should arrive today in Pittsburgh.
"I want to win the Stanley Cup," Brenden Morrow said. "I've seen them play and played against them. I like the compete they have.
"I want to be a piece of the puzzle."
Penguins general manager Ray Shero said he will leave it up to coach Dan Bylsma to figure out where Brenden Morrow will slot into the lineup, but he offered a couple of clues. He called his new winger a "top-nine" forward but mentioned the possibility of him playing with second-line center Evgeni Malkin or third-line center Brandon Sutter. Shero didn't mention center Sidney Crosby.
Brenden Morrow said he will play wherever Bylsma wants.
He has six goals, 11 points in 29 games this season, with an average of 14 minutes, 55 seconds of ice time a game, and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer when his six-year, $24.6 million contract expires. He has a prorated $4.1 million salary cap hit this season.
That classifies him as a rental player for the rest of the season, although the Penguins could opt to make a push to re-sign him.
The Penguins dipped into their collection of young defensemen to acquire a physical veteran.
Joe Morrow, 20, is a first-year pro who had four goals, 15 points and a plus-minus rating of minus-7 in 57 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.
The two players are from western Canada but are not believed to be related.
"Trying to sleep [Saturday] night knowing you're trading a young defenseman, it's tough," Shero said. "But that's the decision you have to make. I don't set the prices."
The Penguins have a stockpile of young defensemen, including two rookies on their NHL roster, Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo.
Brian Dumoulin, 21, is playing in Wilkes-Barre after being acquired from Carolina in June in the Jordan Staal trade. Olli Maatta (first round, 2012) and Scott Harrington (second round, 2011) are teammates with the junior London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Derrick Pouliot (first round, 2012) plays junior hockey for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
"It's a position of strength for our team," Shero said. "Everyone knows we have drafted a number of quality defensemen. In terms of what we're trying to do here, that was an area we had to trade."
Although the Penguins could still swing more trades before the deadline, Shero does not see Despres, a 2009 first-round draft pick, as bait.
"Simon is not in any trade discussions," Shero said. "To me, he'll be here."
Morrow, 6 feet and 205 pounds, had career bests of 33 goals in 2010-11 and 74 points in 2007-08. He was a first-round pick by the Stars in 1997. In 835 career games, he has 243 goals, 528 points.
He is a former teammate of Penguins winger James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen, who were acquired from the Stars in February 2011 in exchange for defenseman Alex Goligoski.
Brenden Morrow was a teammate of Crosby and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with gold-medal winner Canada at the 2010 Olympics.
"He's a real good net-front presence," Shero said. "He'll add to the forward group. We're looking for that physical presence in his game. He goes to those dirty areas.
"Hopefully, he's going to be a good addition -- not a savior, but a complementary piece."