The Chicago Blackhawks will welcome back to the lineup at some point this week one of their big-impact players when Patrick Sharp rejoins the team, but the big question around the club is which player is going to be sent away to make room for the veteran forward.
Most of the focus at this point is on two players, with Joakim Nordstrom and Jeremy Morin the two main contenders to be shipped out. Nordstrom can be sent down to the Rockford IceHogs without having to clear waivers, but Morin doesn’t have that luxury. If the Blackhawks opt to send him down, there’s a definite possibility that another team would claim him, meaning that the Hawks would lose him without compensation.
To make things more complicated for the Hawks, Morin is increasingly unhappy with the fact that he’s been out of the lineup a lot recently. He has been in the press box for the team’s past eight games as a healthy scratch, and according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, Morin is not happy with the situation:
“Two sources told the Sun-Times that Morin is unhappy with his situation with the Blackhawks and is asking to be traded if there’s no spot for him in the lineup. Morin has been a healthy scratch for eight straight games, and with Patrick Sharp expected to return to a deep and crowded lineup on Tuesday in New Jersey, there’s little hope for Morin to get back on the ice anytime soon.”
The Blackhawks are going to have to make a roster move in order to move Sharp off of long-term injured reserve, and while sending Nordstrom would clear a roster spot and enough cap room for the Hawks to remain under the salary cap ceiling, it doesn’t address the issues with Morin.
As it stands, the Blackhawks have three options. The first is to keep Morin on the NHL roster, and work him occasionally into games or use him as an injury substitution when another forward goes down. The second is to trade him away, clearing up cap space for Sharp to return and giving him a chance to play for another NHL team. The third is to try sending him down to Rockford, exposing him to waivers and potentially losing him for nothing.
When weighing those three options, it would seem to make the most sense to try to trade Morin away. Similar to the Brandon Pirri situation, Morin isn’t going to crack the team’s lineup on a consistent basis, but he might be able to catch on somewhere else. It would give him a chance to play, which is clearly what he wants, and the Hawks might be able to get a decent draft pick or prospect for him.
On the other hand, teams could be playing hardball with Chicago, knowing that they are between a rock and a hard place with Morin. Especially for teams that are lower in the standings (the worse a team’s record is, the higher their waiver priority is), trading an asset for Morin makes far less sense than hoping the Hawks try to send him down to the minors, and then they can pick him off for free.
Whatever the solution ends up being, the Hawks have got a big decision to make with Morin. Do they keep a cost-controlled forward who will be a cheap asset next year as they deal with salary cap issues, or do they trade him away because of the situation that they find themselves in presently? It’s a tough choice, and one that Stan Bowman likely isn’t enjoying having to make.