26-year-old Joe Morrow is set to join his sixth different NHL franchise. Or seventh if you count his recent training camp stint with the New York Rangers. The New Jersey Devils must have seen something they liked while he was in camp with their cross-town rivals, as the team has announced a one-year, two-way contract with Morrow. The deal is worth the minimum $700K at the NHL level and $250K in the AHL. He has been placed on waivers today for the purpose of reassignment to AHL Binghamton.
Morrow has quietly established himself as a capable puck-moving depth option on the blue line, despite a career in which teams have been willing to move on from him quickly. Morrow was traded twice before even making his NHL debut; first from the Pittsburgh Penguins, who current Devils GM Ray Shero selected in the first round in 2011, to the Dallas Stars, then from the Stars to the Boston Bruins. Morrow played in 65 games with Boston in his first four pro seasons, but failed to impress and the team opted not to qualify him in 2017, making him a free agent. Morrow signed with the Montreal Canadiens and finally looked like his ability had caught up to his draft billing, but the Habs dealt him to the Winnipeg Jets before the end of the season. After continuing his career-best campaign with Winnipeg, even contributing in the playoffs, the Jets held on to him last year. However, he failed to capitalize in 41 games, the most NHL action he had seen with one team in a season, and the Jets also decided not to extend a qualifying offer. Morrow received little attention in the off-season and his PTO with the Rangers didn’t pan out.
However, the Devils see a smooth skating defenseman with 162 games of NHL experience and strong AHL production and are clearly willing to take a chance. It’s likely not a coincidence that Morrow’s signing comes after New Jersey surrendered 12 goals in it’s first two games of the new season. Despite adding P.K. Subban this summer to a defense corps that also features other highly-mobile rearguards like Sami Vatanen, Damon Severson, and Will Butcher, it’s apparent that Shero is not happy with the early results and is looking to add depth. Morrow’s career production is very similar to that of Connor Carrick and superior to the likes of Mirco Mueller and Matt Tennyson, plus he brings the most playoff experience of the group. One could argue that he has a better defensive track record than the rest as well. If Morrow can find his groove in the AHL, he could easily challenge for a higher spot on the depth chart and perhaps even a regular role in New Jersey.