Jeremy Morin has finally earned a spot on the Chicago Blackhawks, but what line does he end up on this season? With his newly signed 2-year, one-way contract, Morin finds himself in a pretty comfortable spot not having to worry about being sent down to Rockford. This should give him time to find his game and see where he fits in to the Blackhawks system.
Morin was drafted in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in the second round (45th overall) by the then Atlanta Thrashers. After the Blackhawks won the Stanley cup in 2010, they had to clear some cap space, and they did so by trading Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and Akim Aliu for Martin Reasoner, Jeremy Morin, Joey Crabb and two draft picks. Many fans criticized this trade by the front office, but they have to understand that the Hawks needed to lighten the salary load a bit, and they got a very good player out of it in Jeremy Morin.
Morin has been playing with the Rockford Icehogs for the past four years, but has had some short stints with the Blackhawks when called upon as a fill-in for injured players. Last season, before he re-signed with the Hawks, Morin scored 58 points in 67 games for the Icehogs while playing on their top line. When he was given a chance to play on the Hawks, Morin had 11 points in 24 games while playing mostly on the fourth line with approximately nine minutes of ice time per game. But he didn’t show his offensive promise until the end of the season, when he netted four goals and added four assists in the first six games of April. He’s not afraid to take a hit to make a play, but he can also be very physical as well. Here’s a little taste of what Morin can do on the defensive side of the game:
Coach Joel Quenneville has a few decisions to make this year regarding his young guys on the team, but one question he has to answer is: where does Jeremy Morin fit in?
Assuming that GM Stan Bowman doesn’t get rid of any offensive forwards in order to get under the salary cap, these are the 2014-2015 lineup projections according to Scott Powers of ESPN:
LW Patrick Sharp — C Jonathan Toews — RW Marian Hossa
LW Brandon Saad — C Brad Richards — RW Patrick Kane
LW Bryan Bickell — C Andrew Shaw — RW TBD (Jeremy Morin/Kris Versteeg)
LW TBD (Peter Regin/Brandon Mashinter/Morin/Versteeg) — C Marcus Kruger — RW Ben Smith
Judging purely off of experience, Kris Versteeg will probably be getting the third-line slot over Morin. However, as most fans know, Coach Q has no problem changing up his lines in order to shake things up and create some different offensive looks. And unless Versteeg can tap into his potential and find his game, Morin will be taking that spot over. As recent past indicates, Kris Versteeg is one of the most inconsistent players on the Hawks, and unfortunately will likely continue that this upcoming season.
Morin had chemistry with all of his linemates last year, and can adjust to any role that the team wants him in. One can fully expect Morin to be contributing to the third line, and possibly first/second line, on a regular basis as the season progresses.
Morin is a young, hungry player that is eager to prove himself to the Blackhawks organization and he will finally get his chance to do so this upcoming season. If he can produce the way that he did last year, then we could be talking about another break-out player like Brandon Saad was a year ago.