What is the Fantasy Impact of the Brenden Morrow Trade?

Dallas Stars left wing Brenden Morrow
Dallas Stars left wing Brenden Morrow
Dallas Stars left wing Brenden Morrow 10 prepares to face the Edmonton Oilers at the American Airlines Center The Oilers defeated the Stars 5 1 Jerome Miron USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday we saw our first big movement prior to the trade deadline with Dallas Stars LW Brenden Morrow and a third round draft pick in this year’s draft going to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for prospect D Joe Morrow and a fifth round draft pick in the 2013 draft. And no, there is no relation between the two.

For fantasy purposes (is there a better kind?), I will only take a look at Brenden.

One of the things that I always look for when assessing a player is whether or not there is a comparable to him. Lucky for us, Bill Guerin was traded to the Penguins for their eventual Stanley Cup-winning playoff run in 2009. Guerin, much like Morrow, was in the twilight of his career. Guerin, much like Morrow, had seen declining point totals pretty consistently for a few years. Guerin, much like Morrow, had always shot for a high shooting percentage at 11.6% (Morrow’s career SH% is 15.6%).

Brenden Morrow is headed to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Brenden Morrow is headed to the Pittsburgh Penguins Jerome Miron USA TODAY Sports

So what do the advanced metrics say? Well his PDO – a metric that adds the shooting percentage of his team when he is on the ice with the save percentage of his team – this year is 978, much lower than it had been the two years previous (1013 and 1010, respectively). This means that regardless of the trade, he should have seen an improvement in either point totals, plus/minus or both. His On-Ice Corsi is -5.83 up to this point this year which is not very good (although better than last year). On-Ice Corsi is a metric that adds up all the shots attempted at the opposition and subtracts all the shots attempted on your own net when a given player is on the ice. Hence, that negative number is a bad sign. But seeing as it’s better than last year (-7.28) and his PDO is lower than normal, there is room for improvement for him.

Now, back to Guerin. I’m not a fan of small sample sizes but considering Guerin played 17 games at the end of the 2008-2009 season and Pittsburgh has 15 games left this year, it seems apt. In that small sample, Guerin had the highest point/game mark of his last four seasons at 0.71. Now, it must be said that at the time of their respective trades, Guerin was tallying points at a better rate (0.59) than what Morrow is currently producing (0.38). The caveat to that was Guerin was playing more than two minutes more per game (17:13) than Morrow is now (14:55). This marks two consecutive years of a 2+ minute ice-time decrease for Morrow.

The thing is that Morrow’s fantasy value is completely tied to whichever line he plays on. If he plays with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal (once Malkin is healthy), then fantasy players should be salivating. We’ve seen what Sidney Crosby has been able to do for Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. We’ve seen what Malkin did for Neal. Now put Morrow on that line with this stat in mind: Brenden Morrow is a career 15.6% shooter. I can’t explain how ridiculous that is. There were 35 players in the entire NHL last year who played at least 50 games and shot at that rate. That’s about one player per team. That is Morrow’s career shooting percentage. And he’s also shooting a career-low 1.07 shots/game. I’ll attribute that to his slowdown and lack of ice-time both. If he does end up with Malkin and Neal, I would expect his shooting rate to jump to the two shots/game neighbourhood. If that can happen, he should score at least five goals for the rest of the season. It might not sound like a lot but that pace is nearly a 30 goal season in a normal campaign. Throw in some penalty minutes and you have a well-rounded left-winger you can stash on your bench or put in your lineup in case of injury.

But Malkin is not back in the lineup yet. Also, there’s an argument to be made that the top two lines have enough offensive punch already (they are the highest scoring team in the NHL) and they would be better served if he was part of a formidable checking line with Brandon Sutter and Matt Cooke. Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma hinted in his press conference last night that he would be on one of these two lines. If Morrow ends up on the Malkin/Neal line, he’s a must-add in nearly every fantasy format. If he ends up on the Sutter line, you can probably leave him in the waiver pool. Hockey’s a funny game like that.

*stats courtesy of Behind The Net and Hockey Reference

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Michael Clifford
Michael Clifford was born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and is a graduate of the Unviersity of New Brunswick. He writes about fantasy hockey and baseball for XNSports and FantasyTrade411.com. He can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy for any fantasy hockey questions. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');