Sunday morning, the hockey world awoke to news that came as a surprise to anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the Chicago Blackhawks in the last couple of years, as the team finally unloaded prospect-turned-permanent-Quenneville-doghouse-resident Jeremy Morin.
The Hawks traded Morin to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Tim Erixon. The club had sent Morin to the AHL on a "conditioning" stint, that was in no way related to actual conditioning, while they could work out a trade of a player that just never seemed to be a fit. In exchange, they acquire a depth defenseman that was looked at as a potential impact blue liner when he was drafted back in 2009.
First, from the perspective of the Blackhawks, the Morin trade is going to sting a little bit. This is likely true of anyone but Joel Quenneville. There has not been a single thing more obvious in the last couple years than the fact that Q simply did not like Morin. For what reason, we may never know. The skill set was there, and while he was prone to the occasional poorly-timed penalty, he showed flashes of being a very effective player, especially in the bottom six, when he was allowed to join the lineup.
Morin didn't have a point in 15 games with the Blackhawks this season, but that doesn't suggest that he couldn't have been an asset. He brought size and speed to the lineup, and an ability to find the puck and get to the net. His defensive game was improving as well, although Quenneville wasn't willing to wait for it to progress to a point that he'd actually be happy with. Despite constant calls for his presence in the lineup, it was never consistent and this was always going to be inevitable.
In the end, though, trading Jeremy Morin was the right thing, for him and (probably) the organization. Morin is now going to have a chance to crack the NHL lineup every night for the Blue Jackets and we'll finally get a look at what he's actually made of. And if what we've seen from him in a short time is any indication, his game will grow and improve and he can make an impact nightly for Columbus. While that'll certainly call the trade into question, the forwards the Blackhawks have in place, and the ones they have on the way, made him expendable, regardless of his performance elsewhere.
From the perspective of acquiring Tim Erixon, the Blackhawks bring in another former top prospect who hasn't been able to put it all together quite yet. He was drafted in 2009 and refused to sign with Calgary before being jettisoned to the New York Rangers, where his only real impact was as a piece of the Rick Nash trade. He was once looked at as a potential premium offensive defenseman, with an improving game in his own zone. Like Morin, he has shown flashes of his potential, but it hasn't been consistent.
He does have upside as an offensive defenseman, and as a potential asset on the power play. Five of his six points on the season (1 G, 5 A), have come with the man advantage. In 19 games with Columbus, he averaged a touch under 17 minutes of ice time, and 3:26 on the power play. With Klas Dahlbeck already on his way back to Rockford, it's pretty clear that Tim Erixon is coming into play.
It's an interesting get for Morin, and the return was never going to be great, especially after Morin reportedly asked the Hawks for a trade and eliminated their leverage. We'll see how it shakes out, but at least for Jeremy Morin, we can all acknowledge that he's in a better place now, free from the clutches of Joel Quenneville.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.