One of the things to come out at yesterday’s Tampa Bay Lightning media availability was Brenden Morrow saying that he has a desire to play another season. The veteran forward, who just completed his first year with Tampa, indicated that he would like to give it another go. He’s reached two Stanley Cup Finals in his career, but has yet to drink from the Cup itself.
According to the beat writers who were at the availability, Morrow indicated that he really enjoyed playing with Tampa this season. Putting two and two together, it almost seems like the 36-year-old forward wants to re-sign with the team he called home in 2014-15.
But, re-signing Morrow would be a colossal mistake for GM Steve Yzerman. The player who scored three goals and eight points during the season has passed his best-before date. He just wasn’t particularly good during the regular season or playoffs for Tampa Bay. No amount of leadership, experience, and intangibles can make up for on-ice performance that hurts the team. He might be the most calming voice in the room, but that shouldn’t be enough to keep a player on the roster in this salary cap world.
Here’s the crux of the argument: Morrow wasn’t good enough for Tampa Bay. The numbers, both ‘advanced’ and traditional, don’t show him as Tampa’s worst skater, but I think his year is a classic example of the numbers failing to paint a full picture. He appeared to be a giveaway machine. He had exactly zero scoring touch. He didn’t do a ton to drive the play forward. Even when he wasn’t bad, he was just plain ineffective.
Further, he took an inordinate amount of penalties for a guy who received such a small amount of ice time, which put considerable strain on Tampa’s often-ineffective penalty killing unit. During the playoffs, it seemed like he was good for at least one dumb penalty per game. Fans just grew to expect it.
Simply put, the Lightning have better options.
Along with Morrow and a handful of other players, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman took the opportunity to speak with the media on Wednesday. He said that we likely won’t see many roster changes during the summer, and that he expects certain young players to play more next season:
#yzerman doesn't anticipate many changes to his roster this offseason. Mentioned some young guys (Drouin, Vladdy, Nesterov) playing more— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) June 17, 2015
If those young guys are going to get more ice time, it likely means that Morrow’s days as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning are done. Jonathan Drouin deserves a bigger role. Vladislav Namestinikov will earn minutes as he continues to develop. Nikita Nesterov is unquestionably worthy of a roster spot.
The fact of the matter is that there just isn’t room for a player like Morrow, even if he says he’ll play for league minimum and accept spot duty. They originally brought him in for his experience. Well, after the run they just had, every guy in that room now has experience. He’s not needed. And, as he enters his 37-year-old season, he’s probably not going to regain his scoring prowess any time soon.
Hopefully Steve Yzerman saves his roster spots for younger, better options. This Tampa team is overflowing with talent. There’s no sense in holding guys back or losing them so that Morrow can return for one more run. The Lightning already lost Richard Panik so Morrow could play. Let’s stop the bleeding there.
Thanks for reading.