Lacing Up: The Futures of M&M
Names: Brenden Morrow & Douglas Murray
Status: Unrestricted free agents beginning July 5
Expiring Contracts: Morrow – 4 yrs/$4.1 mil. cap hit | Murray – 4 years/$2.5 mil. cap hit
The Scoop: Morrow and Murray were trade deadline acquisitions brought in to provide leadership and grit. Both were successful in these areas, but also contributed significantly to reducing the overall speed of the Penguins.
Matt Paul: I’m a lifelong Morrow fanboy, so seeing him wear a Penguins sweater was quite exciting for me. But, as many warned, the version of Morrow that played for the Penguins was a shell of the player who once recorded 19 hits and a game-winning-goal in a single playoff game a few years back.
Murray, on the other hand, came as a bit of a positive surprise, playing much better than I expected he would. His game relies on solid positioning and pure intimidation, which are great for the regular season. But when the playoffs rolled around, he was unable to eat valuable minutes, forcing others to play more.
Matt, which player do you feel was more valuable to the Penguins when it mattered most: in the playoffs?
Matt Godissart: I also have enjoyed Morrow for a long time, and I was quite pleased that we not only got Jarome Iginla but also got the poor man’s Jarome Iginla: Brendan Morrow. However, Morrow is also 34 years old. At times in the playoffs, Morrow was the energy guy: hitting opponents, getting in guys faces, and doing some of the little things that third liners need to do. But, oh man, did you see how winded he was in some of the games near the end?
Murray was a surprise at first. His physicality was impressive. He also wasn’t as slow as advertised. And then he scored those goals in the Islanders series and I was thinking about trading my Orpik jersey for a Murray. Then he turned into a pylon. There were times when he wasn’t as much an asset for the team. (Although I think Engelland was way worse and offers much less.)
I say they are both just rentals, and we should let them fade away to another team. Morrow is a former great, and even though I like the nostalgic idea of Morrow, I just can’t see him regaining any kind of his former form. Murray should strictly be a rental because, well, he didn’t bring too much to the table for the defense.
Josh, what’s your take on the M & M’s?
Joshua Neal: Morrow is gone. Personally, I loved what he provided the Penguins. His mileage showed even more than Iginla’s however, and he wasn’t as much of an impact as he probably could have been a year or so ago. But I have to question whether Morrow would have even come to town in the first place if Shero knew he would be able to bring Iginla to town a few days later. The coaching staff was faced with making lineup decisions that healthy scratched 6 and 7 players in the playoffs.
Murray, to me, is valuable because of his scarcity. Not his personal scarcity – he is a BIG dude. But his type of defenseman is one that this league is slowly watching die out in favor of the Letangs and Karlssons of the world. Keeping in mind that the Penguins have Olli Maatta and Scott Harrington waiting in the wings, I think signing Murray at around $2/$2.5 million would be a wiser spending venture than most may first assume.
Matt Paul: Morrow’s future with the Penguins depends on Cooke. If Cooke stays, Morrow goes, and vice versa. Murray will be retained for his physicality if only to keep him away from a rival team, such as the Flyers, who likely are drooling over such an opportunity.
Matt Godissart: Morrow goes to a team that needs a ton of leadership (Florida perhaps?), and Murray signs with a team like Tampa Bay or Washington or maybe even the 1991 Hartford Whalers for Ron Francis.
Joshua Neal: Morrow gets a few offers in free agency among some of the league’s younger teams, like Colorado, Nashville, and Florida. He takes the best offer and plays out his career. Murray resigns, but probably at the expense of moving Matt Niskanen via trade to another team.