Brendan Morrison:The Next Gilmour?
Doug Gilmour bolted the New Jersey Devils as a free agent for big bucks from the Chicago Blackhawks. Obviously one reason the Devils didn’t match the Hawks offer was money, the other reason, center Brendan Morrison. Morrison is a 23 year old centerman who has been compared favorably to Gilmour. Gilmour was asked what he felt about Brendan Morrison when he spoke to reporters shortly after signing with the Blackhawks. “I think he’s a good kid. I think he can step up, but the thing with Brendan is whether he can do it over 82 games. It’s a little more physical, a little different. But one reason the Devils didn’t come harder to get me was because they had this kid. Brendan has the ability to be a bigtime scorer at this level.” Devils GM/President Lou Lamoriello was asked what he felt about Morrison now that Gilmour was no longer a Devil, his answer was short and to the point, “I feel that Brendan Morrison is an extremely elite player, this means he’ll be getting the prime time he needs.” Morrison played this past season mostly with the Albany River Rats(AHL) worked on his defense and tenacity with much success, and in 72 games scored 35 goals, had 49 assists for a total of 84 pts leading the team in scoring in his rookie season. He was recalled by the Devils for his 3rd and longest stint of the season for the final seven games of the NHL season, in the wake of a severe knee injury suffered by Gilmour and fresh off a five, thats right a FIVE goal outburst the previous game for the River Rats. Morrison ignited the stagnant Devils offense by scoring 4 goals and 4 assists in the final 6 games of the NHL season. Morrison is pure offense, and can feel and anticipate what’s happening around him making excellent use of his linemates. Much like his idols Wayne Gretzky and Doug Gilmour, Morrison makes his living around and behind the net. The new NHL rules which move the net out 2 more feet to 13 feet from the backboards is almost what the space behind the net is in college hockey, and Brendan was a tremendous player at Michigan(CCHA) winning the Hobey Baker award as top college player his senior season in 1996. This should help Morrison out. Morrison has bigleague speed, is very quick in tight spaces, can score from close range and pick the corners,has added defense and the willingness to fight for the puck and play chippy to his game, but his real strength is his playmaking. As his time with the Devils showed, his linemates have to be ready to receive his passes at all times, as Brendan has the ability to make passes from anywhere in the offensive zone directly on his players tape and through some heavy traffic areas. Brendan can play the point or down low on the power play and run the PP effectively. Yes I am hyping Morrison greatly, but it is the rare talent that deserves the hype,thrives on the hype, is expected to provide an immidiate impact, and does what is advertised. Morrison is expected to do just that, and feels he can do so. Morrison is considered by most as a frontrunner for rookie of the year, but the Devils hope he can score in the 60+ range immidiately. There is pressure on Morrison, but that is what he thrives on. We’ll all be watching Brendan Morrison closely this season, hopefully, Morrison will make Devils fans forget Doug Gilmour, and he just might do so.
*** All quotes are from Bergen Record on July 4th 1998.