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April 10, 2014 | 2:40pm ET
Morin making it hard on Blackhawks
By Tab Bamford, TheFourthPeriod.com

CHICAGO, IL -- Two weeks ago, the buzz around the Chicago Blackhawks was that a talented prospect was going to enter the lineup and give coach Joel Quenneville a moment of pause before filling out his lineup when the first game of the playoffs arrived.

Fast forward five games, and that statement is still true.

But instead of Teuvo Teravainen making the jump from Finland to the NHL, it's been Jeremy Morin moving from Rockford to Chicago that has raised questions about the Hawks postseason roster.

After the Stadium Series game in Chicago, we noted that Brandon Pirri (traded hours after the game) and Morin were the two most seasoned prospects in the Hawks' system. For Pirri to get his shot at the NHL, he was traded to Florida; he has responded with six goals and six assists in 19 games with the Panthers.

When Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were both shut down for the rest of the regular season, Morin got his break. And he's responded with a stretch of quality play that many fans -- and Hawks brass -- have been hoping to see from him since he was the centerpiece of the trade sending Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta in 2010.

In 18 NHL games before April, Morin had an ice time high of 10:51, and had only played more than 10 minutes on three occasions. He's skated at least 12:29 in each of the last three games while Kane and Toews have been out, and has responded with three goals and an assist.

Morin, who turns 23 on April 16, has been a productive player at the AHL level but has struggled with injuries over the last couple seasons. He scored 18 goals but piled up 121 penalty minutes in 2011-12, but bounced back with a strong 30-goal campaign for the IceHogs in 2012-13. Over the final month of last season, Morin was arguably the best offensive player in the AHL. But a roster spot wasn’t waiting for him in Chicago when the 2013-14 season began.

This season, Morin has seen action with the NHL club in five of the seven months, only sticking in Rockford for all of January and February before coming back up to stay in late March.

He was a point-per-game player for the IceHogs this year, and has shown a maturity in his most recent call-up that has made an impact on the scoreboard.

Digging deeper into the box scores, you find that Morin has the highest 5-on-5 on-ice CORSI for percentage (62.9) and on-ice shot percentage (10.19) on the Blackhawks roster, and the only player on the current Hawks roster with a better 5-on-5 Fenwick for percentage than Morin (60.1) is David Rundblad... who has skated 29:30 in a Hawks sweater.

When the post-season begins, the Hawks will bring two of the better players in the NHL back into their lineup. But Morin has made a case that he should be in that lineup with them when the puck drops next week.

Tab Bamford is the Chicago Correspondent for The Fourth Period.


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