As the offseason continues to drag on, we are continuing our look at the player evaluations for the 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What can they improve upon for next season?
We will continue our evaluations today with a player that could see a much bigger role on the team’s offense next season, as Jeremy Morin takes his turn under the spotlight.
Morin was a solid player in his first stint with the team early in the season, but it wasn’t until the last few weeks of the campaign that he really began to make his mark. In six games in the month of April, Morin netted four goals and dished out four assists, and he was part of a highly successful line that pushed the tempo, created scoring opportunities, and perhaps most surprisingly of all, played solid defense.
That part of Morin’s game was underrated by just about everyone, including head coach Joel Quenneville. He barely used Morin in defensive situations, and even though he had nine takeaways and zero giveaways during the regular season, he still wasn’t part of the team’s plans once the playoffs started.
It’s hard to be overly critical of Morin because of how he was used, but the occasional bad turnover or silly penalty can be a deal-breaker when you’re a fringe player trying to make more regular appearances in the lineup. Morin definitely was guilty of a few of those during his time in Chicago last season, and he will have to cut back on both in order to get into Quenneville’s good graces.
Best Game of 2013-14:
There aren’t many to choose from, but one Morin game that definitely stood out was his performance against the St. Louis Blues on April 6. In that game, Morin had a goal and an assist, but it was the variety of skills he displayed in the contest that made it such a memorable one.
On his goal in the second period, Morin showed great tenacity when he pounced on a rebound chance off a Bryan Bickell shot. Crashing the net, Morin slid the puck past Brian Elliott to tie things up at 1-1. Near the end of that frame, Morin showed off his athleticism and great passing, deking around a defender to set up a 2-on-1 chance that resulted in a Patrick Sharp goal to give Chicago the lead.
That combination of net-crashing prowess (which Quenneville loves) and athleticism makes Morin an attractive candidate for the second or third line for the Blackhawks, and this game was a great representation of what he can bring to the party.
Outlook for 2014-15:
After signing a two-year contract with the Blackhawks this summer, it would appear that Morin is going to be getting a serious chance to not only make the Hawks’ roster, but also to be a regular contributor to the lineup. With Brandon Bollig gone, Morin could jump into a third line role with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell, or he could even move up to the first or second line if Quenneville continues to experiment with Sharp on the third line.
Whichever line he ends up on, Morin has to make sure that his performances in the latter part of the 2013-14 season are replicated. His defense still needs work, but he showed progress in that area, and if he can combine that with his offensive upside, then he could end up being a key player for the team moving forward.