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Who got the better Morrow?

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Monday, March 25, 2013, 1:06 a.m.
 

There is a train of thought involving trades — which I tend to align with — that whichever team gets the best player wins.

But in analyzing the trade that brought Brenden Morrow to the Penguins and sent defenseman prospect Joe Morrow to the Dallas Stars Sunday, the question is simple — who got the best player in this deal? It's probably a matter of perspective and timing.

Morrow will definitely provide veteran leadership and a legitimate top six forward. Or on a team where your first two centers are named Crosby and Malkin, a top four winger.

But the question is whether Brenden Morrow is needed at this point.

Sidney Crosby has definitely found the chemistry with wingers Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, who are having career years.

And James Neal and Evgeni Malkin have been magical together. The third piece of that line seems to be what general manager Ray Shero was after with this deal.

But this deal messes with the future for a shot at a Stanley Cup run. If the Penguins win the Cup this year, this deal may have been worth it in the short run. If not, it wasn't.

But either way, the deal will have an effect on the Pens future.

Long after Brenden Morrow is gone, Joe Morrow will be tearing it up in the league.

And by adding Brenden Morrow now, it puts off winger Beau Bennett's NHL career and development for now. Bennett — the only Penguins prospect ranked higher than Joe Morrow before the season started — was beginning to find his place alongside Malkin and Neal. Now he will be demoted — either to ineffectiveness on a third or fourth line or back to the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

You have to believe general manager Ray Shero felt some heat to make a deal after failing to pull the trigger on a trade before last season's deadline. When the Penguins went down in the first round of the playoffs last year, that lack of a deal to aid the team's post-season run was illuminated.

But being bounced from the playoffs by the Philadelphia Flyers two seasons ago just illustrated two more pressing needs — a gritty winger and a stay-at-home defenseman. Those needs still remain, and I think Shero will still be forced to make deals to fill those holes before the April 3 trade deadline.

The Morrow-for-Morrow deal smacks of the Penguins' desire to make sure that Brenden Morrow did not fall into the hands of the Boston Bruins. Odds are those two teams are destined to battle the final five weeks of the schedule for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams had deals on the table and Brenden Morrow had to chose between them.

I have to wonder if this sets the scene for the Bruins to acquire winger Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames. The Penguins were also considered on the short list of teams in the Iginla sweepstakes.

Both Morrow and Iginla are rent-a-players, due to be unrestricted free agents in the off season. But Iginla would have been the better acquisition, although the Flames want more in return.

Brenden Morrow's salary is $4.1 million for this year while Iginla is making $7 million.

In the end, I think the Penguins got the better Morrow for now. But down the road, the Stars got the better Morrow.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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