Wednesday: The team has officially announced the contract, bringing back Morrow for one year at $1MM.
Tuesday: A team declined to extend a qualifying offer to a restricted free agent defenseman who had been a good fit, only to re-sign him to an affordable one-year deal. Sound familiar? Less than an hour after the Vancouver Canucks re-signed Derrick Pouliot to an extension, the Winnipeg Jets have followed suit with a new contract for Joe Morrow. TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that Morrow has signed a one-year, $1MM extension to remain in Winnipeg.
Like Pouliot, Morrow does not lose out on not getting a qualifying offer by yesterday’s deadline. The 25-year-old defender made the league minimum $650K last year, making a new million-dollar pact a substantial upgrade. In fact, it is almost a surprising raise for Morrow. The young journeyman, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins and traded to the Dallas Stars and then to the Boston Bruins before even making his NHL debut, was on his third team in two years when he finished the 2017-18 season with the Jets. Boston had declined to qualify Morrow last summer, only they intended to let him walk as a free agent. Morrow signed with the Montreal Canadiens and posted a career high in games played and points while also showing some defensive improvements. However, Morrow was still less than a full-time player and his move to Winnipeg was more of an afterthought depth addition at the time of the NHL Trade Deadline. Morrow was solid albeit unspectacular down the stretch for the Jets and was used only sparingly in the postseason. With that said, the Jets were vocal about how pleased they were with Morrow’s acquisition.
The Winnipeg front office and coaching staff clearly saw enough of the puck-moving defenseman to decide on using some of their precious cap space to bring him back. The Jets face a daunting number of restricted and unrestricted free agency conundrums this summer, but seemingly worked quickly to get a deal done with Morrow. With four veteran defenseman signed for next season and three more qualified as RFA’s, Winnipeg has plenty of depth on the blue line, but must have plans to use Morrow in some capacity next season.