By Allan Muir
The swap also sees a 2013 third-round pick going to the Pens and a 2013 fifth-rounder going to the Stars.
Brendan Morrow, the 34-year-old Canadian Olympian, agreed to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate the deal, according to Aaron Ward of TSN.
The first significant swap of the deadline season seems to address obvious needs for at least one of these teams.
To get a high-end, young defense prospect like Joe Morrow, who was a 2011 first-rounder, is a coup for Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. The younger (and unrelated) Morrow is a strong two-way defender with legitimate top-four potential. He's quick on his feet, has a heavy shot and can play with some edge. Adding him to a talent pool that includes Brenden Dillon, Jamie Oleksiak, Ludvig Bystrom and Patrik Nemeth gives Dallas a promising core for the future and potentially frees Nieuwendyk to move veteran Stephane Robidas for another young prospect.
On their end, the Penguins fully understand that character will be Morrow's primary contribution. Used properly, he can be a physical, defensively responsible presence at five-on-five, and he can still create a little havoc down low on the power play, but there's not a lot of tread left on his tires. Maybe a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup -- he arrived in Dallas one year after the Stars won it in 1999 -- will add some jump to his aging legs. More likely though, he'll reprise his recent performance in Big D: the occasional strong shift, but he was invisible more nights than not.
Two more quick takes on the deal.
First, this could be to Nieuwendyk what the 2011 Tomas Kaberle deal was for former Toronto GM Brian Burke: a potentially face-saving swap that takes some of the sting out of a previous deal that went horribly wrong.
In Burke's case, Kaberle netted the Leafs top prospect Joe Colborne and a first-round pick from the Bruins two years after the GM had been hoodwinked into paying two first-rounders (Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton) and a second (Jared Knight) for Phil Kessel.
Nieuwendyk is still trying to recover from the 2011 swap that sent 40-goal scorer James Neal to the Pens in exchange for the disappointing Alex Goligoski. This one doesn't exactly even things up, but it has the potential to look a lot better on his resume.
Second, it appears that the cost of doing business in this market might be even higher than anticipated. While the Penguins were dealing from strength here -- they still have enviable blueline depth with Derrick Pouliot, Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin, Simon Despres and Olli Maata in the system -- this is a significant price to pay for a depth forward with an expiring contract.
If a team in the East decides it needs to counter by adding Jarome Iginla or even Ryane Clowe, they'd better be prepared to make a very painful offer. There are reports that the Boston Bruins had offered Alexander Khokhlachev for Morrow. Although unconfirmed, I'd say they dodged a bullet when Morrow chose to go to Pittsburgh.