Blackhawks still high on Morin's potential

CHICAGO -- Who had the best possession numbers for the Chicago Blackhawks this season?

Not Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa or any of the other well-known names throughout the Blackhawks lineup. It was Jeremy Morin.

Morin had a smaller sample size playing in just 24 regular season games, but his statistics provide a glimpse of what he might be able to do if given a full-season opportunity with the Blackhawks. He led the team with a 62.6 Corsi percentage (shot differential) and 12.6 shots on goal per 60 minutes, according to extraskater.com.

Morin's full-time NHL chance was expected to come this season, but he was bounced back and forth between the Blackhawks and the AHL. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was just never convinced to keep him in the lineup.

Morin especially showed what he was capable of just prior to the playoffs when he scored goals in four of five games in April, but it wasn't enough to crack the playoff lineup. He appeared in two playoff games, both in the second round, and played less than 13 minutes in total.

Despite not showing confidence in Morin at times this season and healthy scratching him for much of the playoffs, Quenneville is encouraged by Morin's play.

"I just think Mo really, I think he progressed this year," Quenneville said on Tuesday. "He didn't get much of a chance in the playoffs, but I think that Mo has a good ability to score goals. He's got the unpredictability offensively that, it's a nice trait to have.

"It's the unpredictability of being consistent and defensively being reliable that, putting that all together is what we're looking for. And he gets that, the last couple of those things tightened up, you know, I think Mo could grow as a player and all of a sudden his opportunity could be enhanced. But there's potential there. I like the way he competes and offensively he's got some nice traits as well."

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman says patience is necessary for the organization's prospects, and he believes Morin is about ready.

"Every year, we've seen one or two young guys come in," Bowman said on Tuesday. "This year, it was Ben Smith. In the past, it's been [Nick] Leddy and [Marcus] Kruger and [Brandon] Saad and [Andrew] Shaw and you have to have that every year. Next year, I think Jeremy Morin will have that chance to do that as well. He's sort of knocking on the door of a player that gives you a little bit of everything.

"The one thing he needs is to get the opportunity. That's the one thing for us: you get a guy who spent a couple years developing, they have confidence and they're ready for that next challenge. It works better that way than taking a kid who's played 15 games in the AHL, put him in the NHL and if they don't have success right away they start to question themselves, change their game and may never get it back. We don't want to go that route."

The discussions between Morin's side and Bowman should be interesting next month. Morin becomes a restricted free agent on July 1, so he can't easily flee the Blackhawks and join a team where he'd be definitely given a larger role. Morin watched as the Blackhawks traded fellow prospect forwards Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Pirri to the Florida Panthers last season, and both saw significant NHL ice time afterward.

But Morin is also in a place in his career where he'll need assurance that he'll play next season if he's going to re-sign with the Blackhawks. With the forwards set to return to the Blackhawks next season, there aren't many spots for Morin. And after turning 23 in April, he doesn't want to endure another season like his last one.