Flames sign NCAA free agent Kenney Morrison to 2-year, entry-level contract

The Calgary Flames have signed Western Michigan defenseman Kenney Morrison, 23 to a two-year, entry-level contract, the club announced on Thursday.

Morrison’s contract won’t kick in until the 2015-16 league year (which begins on July 1), according to TSN’s Bob Mckenzie. So in contrast with how the Flames offered to burn a year of Johnny Gaudreau’s contract in order to entice him to sign and forgo his senior year of college hockey, Morrison will be available to sign a tryout deal with the Adirondack Flames and participate in the Calder Cup playoffs. He’s recently done precisely that, according to McKenzie.

Read on past the jump.

Described in scouting reports as a heavy shooter – and yeah, the embedded video above provides ample evidence of that – Morrison is a six-foot-two, 205 pound blue liner who hails from Lloydminster, AB. 

The veteran NCAA defender has attended development camps with the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings in recent years, and was considered one of – if not the best – free agent blue line prospect in the college ranks.

Morrison’s counting stats don’t particularly jump off of the page, which could speak to his having some limited upside. The scouting reports on the 23-year-old blue-liner are mostly glowing though, like this one from lastwordonsports.com’s Ben Kerr:

Morrison is a tremendous skater. He has outstanding speed, great acceleration, and superb edgework. As a result he is extremely mobile on the backend and a great two-way defender. The 22-year-old has an absolute cannon from the point, and if he can be just a little more accurate could really do damage on the powerplay. He also plays an excellent defensive game, and his ability to change directions quickly makes him a feared hitter off the rush.

Considering Morrison’s combination of pro size, heavy slap shot and skating ability, we might describe him – in classic scouting parlance – as toolsy. It’s a solid add for a Flames club that, Tyler Wotherspoon aside, was somewhat lacking in quality back-end prospect depth.

  • More important than signing Morrison is that the Flames are now hopefully a club that college free agents and NHL free agents want to come to. That’s a credit to BB and BT and the coaching staff who have made this a fun and exciting team. When players want to join a club, it’s a good sign.

      • mk

        No question he’s a train wreck and it looks good on him for stiffing Anaheim. Having said that, I don’t blame Schultz for his progression (or lack thereof) and place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Oilers coaching and management. Schultz isn’t the first or last youngster that the Oilers will ruin. They are the antithesis of the Detroit program.

      • RealMcHockeyReturns

        Why do so many people always want to put all of the blame on the player all of the time?

        Schultz has such talent that he scored over a p/pg as a rookie D in the AHL. It’s a classic example of just how important proper development is. Edmonton is the worst team in the league at it and it shows with a lot more players than just Schultz.

        As for the signing: hats off to Treliving. This is a tremendous coup. Very, very well done.

        He and Wotherspoon will be an instant upgrade over Engelland and Smid. Ditto Schlemko. Our top 7 D, as a group, will be much better next season.

  • Colin.S

    These are those kind of signings that have no downsides. It’s a short inexpensive contract for a guy that the Flames can probably figure out in those couple of years whether he will be a player in the NHL of some capacity or be nothing more than foot note of this season.

    The counting stats may not jump off the page, but I like the notes about his skating. If there’s one thing Brodie has done this year to impress people it’s his skating and ability to be everywhere on the ice. Having more guys that could potentially skate like that never a bad thing.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Great news, could be a future 3-4 Dman or more. Interesting that Flames were both able to find him (keeping up the US college focus of old Weisbrod and Feaster) and able to SIGN him, likely because he knew Flames needed him and that he realizes Calgary is on the way up (unlike the Oilers permanent state of crappiness).

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    DJ Powers from Hockey Futures:

    “Following in the footsteps of former teammate Dan DeKeyser (DET) last season, Kenney Morrison has become the hottest defensive commodity available on the college hockey free agent market this season. Numerous NHL teams have Morrison on their collegiate free agent wish list and it’s not hard to see why. Among the teams that could potentially land the coveted young rearguard is the Edmonton Oilers, whose prospect camp Morrison attended this past summer.

    The Lloydminster, AB native has played in all 35 of the Broncos’ games to date, posting 18 points (three goals, 15 assists). Morrison logs upwards of 25 minutes per game playing in all situations. He has been especially good on Western Michigan’s power-play, where all of his goals so far have come. Morrison leads the Broncos with 75 penalty minutes and ranks fifth on the team with a +7 rating.

    Morrison is an excellent skating, two-way defenseman who is blessed with size (6’2”, 205 lbs.) and great hands. He moves the puck exceedingly well and has greatly improved his decision-making while controlling it. But what has scouts clamoring to get glimpses of him is his pro-style shot. Morrison possesses one of the NCAA’s hardest shots and to say that he has a cannon of a slapshot might be an understatement. One notable attribute that Morrison has shown this season is his ability to employ different types of shots. This has resulted in increased shots on goal, and more importantly, accurate ones.

    Two other attributes that scouts like about Morrison are his skating and physicality. He has good foot speed and is active in jumping up into plays. Morrison can deliver some solid checks and has begun to strike a balance between his hard-hitting style and playing with discipline.”

    WELL DONE BT!

  • Nick24

    Any news on Bryce Van Brabant, LW from Morinville who was in both the Oilers and Flames development camps last year?

    He is 6’3”, 205-pound power forward who likes the physicality..

  • Nick24

    I’ve seen Morrison a few times on the TSN NCAA broadcasts and he seems to play very similarly to Danny Dekeyser, except he’s packing a significantly harder shot. I was thrilled to hear that the Flames were even a team he was considering joining, but I’m very happy that we have him now!

    I’m not sure about how other people feel about him, but he’s at least as good as Whotherspoon right now, if not better!

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Will be nice to see how he does in Adirondack to compare him to Wotherspoon. If I had to guess I’d say they are about equal. Perhaps they form the top pairing down there?

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Per Flames article:

    “It’s a great organization from top to bottom,” he stated. “The people I’ve talked to couldn’t say anything bad about the organization, the management, or the coaching staff.

    “The scouting staff, they’ve been treating me very well since the day I first talked to them. I’m very excited and I’m really looking forward to a future here.”

    Some major props to BB/BT, Jay Feaster, Bob Hartley, Craig Conroy, et al. Thanks for what you’ve started here!

  • Greg

    A guy from my office is a flames fan. He says people in calgary think he is a “shoe-in” to win the Norris this year. I don’t know what you cow dung smelling, hicks are talking about. Brodie isn’t even in the conversation. Get real.

  • RKD

    Glad we got him and not the Oilers, he’s going to be a better options than some of the lower tier d-men on this team. His size, shot, skating ability and the ability to play a two-game made him an attractive commodity. I like the fact that he is a right handed shot, it’s very critical to have that balance. So glad we got him over the Oilers, Morrison will make Schultz look like a dog’s breakfast.

  • BurningSensation

    Ages ago the NHL used to do a waiver draft where GMs would gather and select otherwise undrafted players (typically college kids if I recall, but I actually don’t), the results were almost never anything but minor leaguers being moved around, with only the occasional late-bloomer of any interest.

    Before one of these exercizes Glenn Sather was asked what he hoped to find in the dreck-fest mutt swap that was about to occur. His response;

    “Oh you know, a 6’4, 200lb defenseman with speed and a hard shot who can play 20 minutes a game for us.”

    Which brought the chuckles everywhere.

    And yet, here we are now with Calgary in the middle of a rebuild, and on the cusp of the playoffs, and our GM reaches out into the ether and plucks from it a young, big, defenseman with a bomb of a shot.

    That is some seriously impressive unicorn hunting.

    I dont care if the kid is the next Jason Herter (look it up), this is exactly the kind of move competent GMs make. He’s free money. Young D-men with his pedigree are commodities that command decent draft picks in trade (unless you are Simon Despres, in which case you command Ben Lovejoy. Your mileage may vary).

    As for realistic expectations, let’s not kid ourselves, it sounds like there are gaps in his game offensively (A bad first pass? Can’t turn left? Low hockey IQ? There are warning bells), so a 5-6 guy who throws fire on the 2nd unit PP is what I’m looking for.

  • amaninvan

    What a great pickup. So glad to see the flames get a young dman, espeacilly when that is an area we ne need.
    Personaly i was hoping we would use 4 of our 1st 6 picks this year to get defence. Such a hard position to fill, and take more time to develope. The fact Morrison chose the flames says good things about how the org is looking to free agents. Glad he choose us over the oilers, dont blame him either.
    Considering it is only year 2 of a rebuild things are looking good. Looking forward to see what we get at the draft,after a playoff run of course.

  • Lloydminster6

    This guys old man probably paid the flames double his contract for him to get signed. He craps money. 6’2 205…..yeah right! More like 180. This guy is going to get is bell rung!! Good luck.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    This signing speaks volumes to how our organization has changed in such little time..I wish Morrison luck with our team and hope he proves edmonton fans wrong just as johnny hockey has..we are a buyout (Engelland) and a few draft picks,ufa signings away from an elite defence. I doubt treliving would have approached free agency the same way if he knew where calgary stood in our rebuild. I expect to see a different approach this year at the draft and free agency other than stop gap signings