It was more of the same from Joe Morrow this season as he bounced in and out of the lineup the entire year. When injuries arose, he slotted in as the 5th or 6th defensemen, but as soon as the others were healthy again, it was back to the pressbox where he’s sat for much of his time in Winnipeg. As a pending RFA, Morrow might be worth a minimum contract, but with his mediocre play over the past season, he could quite easily be replaced if needed.
70 – Defense
6’0″ / 196 lbs / Age: 26
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Morrow is currently without a contract for next season as his one year deal worth $1 million expired at the end of the season. Morrow is an RFA with arbitration rights although it doesn’t seem that arbitration would really be worth it from Morrow’s perspective. A neutral party isn’t likely to give out much more than the minimum contract given Morrow’s usage last season. The key thing to note is that Morrow is one year away from being 27 years old, which means he will be a UFA as of summer 2020. The appeal of being a UFA in one season will likely mean that Morrow will only sign a one year deal this off-season.
Player’s Season in Review
It was an even split with Morrow on the ice or in the pressbox this year with 41 games played and 41 games watching. In his time on the ice, he was relegated to the bottom pairing where he played less than 14 minutes per game. This was the least of any of the regular defensemen that Winnipeg used this year and it becomes clear why after looking at the stats. Morrow finished last among all Jets defensmen this season with a on-ice xGoals% of 43%. This goes along with a terrible CF% of 45.21% and an even worse scoring chance % of 42.83%. These stats show that Morrow not only got out-shot when on the ice, but he also gave up far more dangerous chances than he helped generate.
While some of this is due to the regression of the team overall, Morrow struggled with his defensive coverage and seemed to be lost in his own end at certain times.
The poor numbers are backed up by Morrow’s shot chart, as you can see a massive number of shots were generated from the slot when Morrow was on the ice.
Although Morrow isn’t been regarded as a defensive defensemen, his offensive totals were also down compared to the prior season. Morrow mustered only 0.17 points per game this year while he had 0.29 per game last year. While some of the decrease might be due to his usage this year, the overall theme is that Morrow had a sub-par season, especially when comparing it to his prior season in 2017-18.
It doesn’t feel like that long ago when Morrow played the hero in game one of the 2017-18 playoffs. He scored the game winner against the Wild and instantly earned the respect of many fans. Unfortunately for Morrow, things can change quickly as he didn’t even suit up at all during the series against the Blues this year. With Beaulieu brought in at the trade deadline, it pushed Morrow even further down the depth chart and he didn’t see much action in the second half of the season and no game action at all in he playoffs
What We Said A Year Ago
“Joe Morrow may be better known as “the other guy the Winnipeg Jets got on Trade Deadline Day 2018” and dismissed as an afterthought by a lot of fans and media a like as the Jets geared up for a playoff run, but his addition proved to be a bit of a shrewd depth signing that helped the Jets get through a number of injuries without too many complications.”
As mentioned above, Morrow is a pending RFA with arbitration rights and is only one year away from UFA status. With this in mind, it’s hard to see Morrow signing for longer than one season. The Jets will likely keep him around in a depth role for one more year before he’s free to move elsewhere. His usage likely won’t change next season, although with Trouba and Myers both up in the air, Morrow might find himself in the lineup more often than not. We will have to wait and see if Morrow is able to capitalize on some of the other moving pieces in Winnipeg.