Count me among those who believed Jeremy Morin could succeed in Chicago if given the right opportunity. The kid was just 23 years old entering this season, despite making his NHL debut four years prior, and had regularly showed signs of being a potent scorer with a nice dash of physicality. He was, from all indications, a good prospect.
We haven't seen much of that Morin in the past couple months, however. We haven't seen any of Morin at all, really, when you consider the way he's been buried on the Blackhawks' depth chart by Joel Quenneville and company. For all intents and purposes, the coaching staff appears to have given up on Morin, and it seems like everyone else is coming around to reality after weeks in the press box.
That's why nobody should be surprised that Morin reportedly requested a trade from the Blackhawks recently if he can't get on the ice. And it's why nobody should be surprised when the team finally pulls the trigger and ships out the young winger, so he can join the likes of Brandon Pirri, Dylan Olsen and others in the Big Book of Chicago What-Ifs.
This isn't meant to be an indictment of Morin, who's been a hard worker in the Blackhawks organization for years without getting a truly fair shake at playing time. Instead, we've seen journeymen like Daniel Carcillo and fellow youngsters like Joakim Nordstrom get the nods, while Morin sits in a waiver-induced limbo of the Blackhawks' making.
See, if the Blackhawks could simply demote Morin to Rockford and let him play there, this would be a much different discussion. But with the winger unable to be re-assigned without passing through waivers -- an unlikely proposition given the number of teams that would surely like a talented, affordable young player -- Chicago has been painted into a pretty simple situation: play him or trade him.
And right now, it's hard to figure how the Blackhawks could possibly play Morin. There just isn't enough room in Chicago, where the team has a stacked NHL depth chart and little space for a young winger who's struggled in his occasional opportunities. There are surely a few teams out there who could support Morin with steady playing time -- Chicago just isn't one of them.
That's totally okay, too. To some degree, this is simply the nature of doing business when you're routinely one of the best teams in the NHL. Young guys are going to have a hard time cracking the lineup, especially on the forward side of things, and it's often going to take a Brandon Saad level of greatness to convince a win-now team to spend time on player development at the top level. Morin is certainly an intriguing young player, but it's not like he's shown signs of being on the cusp of 30-plus goals. He's still a question mark.
But he's also a young, talented, cheap question mark, and for teams that don't have the short-term ambitions of the Blackhawks, that makes for a valuable asset. Teams won't line up to offer great value to a team stuck in a corner like this -- they know they can wait it out and hope Chicago waives Morin -- but someone might offer up a draft pick to avoid that whole situation.
And given what the 'Hawks are doing right now, by sitting Morin on the bench while playing a myriad of other options, they might as well trade him. Morin's value only depreciates with each game that he sits in the press box, and it's not like sneaking him through waivers will be any easier in a month.
A trade might ultimately be the best thing for everyone. It simplifies the Blackhawks' depth chart, removing a guy from the roster who wasn't playing anyways. It also does right by Morin, who's worked hard and deserves an NHL chance somewhere, even if it's not in Chicago. But most importantly, it would be smart asset management, giving the franchise a valuable draft pick instead of a player who's slowly moving from "intriguing prospect" to "future AHL star."
Optimism surrounding Morin was always predicated on the idea that he'd eventually get steady playing time. If that's just not gonna happen, it's time to take calls on the winger.