Caps Sign Brendan Morrison (UPDATED)

July 10, 2009 | Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals have signed unrestricted free agent center Brendan Morrison to a one-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A 5’11”, 181-pound native of Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Morrison has had 50-plus points six times, including four 20-goal seasons. He has played 755 career games with four teams – Dallas, Anaheim, Vancouver and New Jersey – spanning 12 NHL seasons. Morrison has 175 goals and 330 assists (505 points) in his NHL career, with career highs in goals (25), assists (46) and points (71) coming in 2002-03 with the Canucks.

Morrison, who will turn 34 on Aug. 15, split last season between Anaheim and Dallas, posting 16 goals and 31 points in 81 games. He had 32 penalty minutes and a +3 rating. Morrison played 542 consecutive NHL games from 2000-07, but was hampered by injuries the past two seasons.

Morrison’s best seasons came as a member of the Canucks, where he amassed 393 points in 543 games from 2000-08 and was among the team’s top five scorers for six years in a row. He has consistently been a plus player, with a career rating of +55, and has 47 power-play goals, seven shorthanded goals and 38 game-winning goals to his credit.

A second-round draft choice of New Jersey in 1993, 39th overall, he earned AHL All-Rookie Team honors as a member of the Devils’ affiliate, the Albany River Rats, when he led them in scoring in 1997-98.

Morrison won the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top college player in 1997 (the same award McPhee won as a player at Bowling Green) and led Michigan to the national championship in 1996. He led the nation in scoring three times for the Wolverines, collecting 102 goals and 182 assists (284 points) in 155 games. Morrison was a teammate of recent Capitals signee Mike Knuble for two years at Michigan and again with Linkopings in Sweden in 2004-05.

COMMENT: As everyone knows the Caps needed a second line center and it appears McPhee has gotten his man. Depending on the money involved I think this is a good signing. Morrison was once a member of one of the best lines in hockey in Vancouver with Marcus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, and Morrison. The Caps lost Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov and have replaced them with Morrison and Mike Knuble at likely less money than last season (they paid a combined $6.5M last year for those two players and with Knuble at $2.8M and Morrison no more than that – he made $2.75M last season and definitely took less money from the Caps – McPhee has saved salary cap room). Washington has arguably upgraded the talent level, although Fedorov’s leadership and experience is a tough thing to replace but he was injury prone, with these two signings. The key with Morrison will be his health. He badly injured a wrist that snapped a 542 consecutive game streak and then he tore his ACL during the 2007-08 season. The former first line center of one of the best lines in hockey has struggled to regain his form since then.

UPDATE: TSN is reporting Morrison signed for $1.5M for one season. Here is some of the info and quotes from the TSN article:

He played in 542 consecutive games from 2000-07, but he has since had four surgeries — wrist, hip, sports hernia and torn right ACL.

He was limited to 39 games with the Canucks during the 2007-08 season, moved on to the Ducks for 2008-09 but was waived in March and claimed the next day by the Stars.

He finished the season with 16 goals and 15 assists in 81 games between the two teams.

Morrison said he “could barely get up and down the ice” for much of the season.

“I thought I felt good and I thought I was healthy, but my legs didn’t start coming around until probably the three-quarter mark,” he said.

He said he’s now back at full strength for summer conditioning.

“He has a clean bill of health,” general manager George McPhee said, “and is committed to coming to camp in great shape. We think he could really flourish here.”