SUN Hockey Pool

Wounded bunch look to Morrison

, Last Updated: 9:30 PM ET

Call Brendan Morrison the confidence man.

His signing shows the Calgary Flames’ utter lack of it.

Bringing in a 35-year-old capable of playing on your top two lines wasn’t something the team would have considered coming into camp.

Not with Olli Jokinen, Matt Stajan, Mikael Backlund, David Moss and Craig Conroy down the middle when practices began last month, and things looking better for Daymond Langkow.

Injuries to Stajan, Moss and winger Ales Kotalik, and the setback Langkow has suffered opened the door for some of the younger players like Backund or maybe even Mitch Wahl.

Instead, the organization has opened its wallet to bring in the former Canuck.

The kids clearly aren’t ready to shoulder the load.

So the Flames got even older Monday, inking Morrison to a one-year, one-way deal worth US $725,000.

Smart move.

Backlund still has plenty to prove as a full-time NHLer, and nobody on the farm is ready to step up and play big minutes for a team that wants to win now and isn’t looking to rebuild.

“That doesn’t mean Backlund hasn’t done a good job in this camp,” said Flames assistant GM Jay Feaster.

“But given the injury situation, we don’t want to be short, don’t want to find ourselves down the road, or in a few weeks, wishing we’d done something.”

Morrison scored 12 goals and 42 points with the Washington Capitals last season, starting the year on the second line and still contributing offensively even after his role was reduced.

His pro tryout with the Canucks over the last month proved to the Flames he still had the skills they may be running low on.

“It’s a great opportunity to step in and prove you can still produce night in and night out. I’m excited about that,” Morrison said in a conference call.

“I anticipate coming in and contributing. I think when the team gets healthier, it’s only going to help the cause and help the depth.

“I’m a versatile player that can play centre, but if they need me to, I can play the wing. I don’t have an issue with that.”

Morrison didn’t know early on in camp that the Flames were keeping an eye on him. But with all the injuries they’ve suffered, the savvy veteran expected them to be an option.

There’s plenty of grit on this Flames roster, and on their AHL affiliate Abbotsford Heat — where winger Cam Cunning and defenceman

Matt Pelech will be assigned if they clear waivers by Tuesday morning — but there’s still a shortage of speed and skill behind the top line or two.

With a focus on creating more offence and getting off to a fast start to the regular season when the puck drops Thursday night against the Oilers in Edmonton, that meant looking outside the organization for immediate help.

“We believe a guy like Nemo (2008 first-round pick Greg Nemisz) is gonna play here at some point, but to believe he’s ready to step into a top-six role right now is asking quite a bit. Even Mitch Wahl, he had a good camp, two good pre-season games with Abbotsford this past weekend. We’re pleased with his progress, but we talked about the need to get off to a good start.

“That priority hasn’t changed, so we think having a veteran presence and someone in the top six is a better way to go.”

The prospects, meanwhile, still have a long way to go.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


Videos

Photos