CALGARY – Hit with injuries at forward, the Calgary Flames signed veteran centre Brendan Morrison to a one-year deal Monday.
Flames assistant general manager Jay Feaster says the 35-year-old Morrison, who was released from a tryout contract with Vancouver on Sunday, could find himself on Calgary’s second line in the short term.
“A skilled guy,” Feaster said. “We need a centre iceman, we need somebody who is good on faceoffs.”
With Daymond Langkow (neck) expected to start the season on long-term injury reserve, and Matt Stajan (shoulder) and Ryan Stone (knee) sidelined indefinitely, the Flames were looking thin down the middle with Thursday’s season-opener against Edmonton looming.
Flames right-winger David Moss (shoulder) and Alex Kotalik (knee) are also out indefinitely.
“Initially, it’s a great opportunity to step in and prove you can still produce night in and night out and I’m excited about that,” Morrison said on a conference call. “I anticipate coming in and contributing and when the team gets healthier, it’s only going to help the cause and help the depth.
“I’m a versatile player who can play centre, but if they need me to, I can play the wing. I can play special teams, power play and penalty kill, so I think it’s a move that’s going to help in a lot of different facets.”
Morrison, from Pitt Meadows, B.C., has played 829 regular season games for New Jersey, Vancouver, Dallas, Anaheim and Washington compiling 187 goals, 360 assists and 424 penalty minutes.
He spent seven seasons with Vancouver and had 12 goals and 30 assists in 74 games last season for the Capitals.
The five-foot-11, 185-pound forward was a second-round draft pick of the New Jersey Devils in 1993. He’s expected to join the Flames at Tuesday’s practice.
The signing of Morrison indicates the Flames don’t think 21-year-old Mikael Backlund, the club’s first-round draft pick in 2007, is ready to shoulder the second-line centre roll behind Olli Jokinen.
“That doesn’t mean Backlund hasn’t done a good job in this camp, but given the injury situation, we don’t want to be short,” Feaster explained. “We don’t want to find ourselves down the road wishing we had done something.
“(Morrison) is a versatile player so it gives us more options. He’s a good character guy and he’ll fit in the (dressing) room no problem.”
Langkow suffered a neck injury March 21 after being struck by a shot from teammate Ian White. He started skating late in the summer, but Feaster says doctors told him to stop.
“They have prescribed rest,” Feaster said. “It’s an issue of when he’s symptom-free. After having skated a couple of weeks ago, he had symptoms again. Doctors want him to rest before he starts skating again.”
NHL clubs have to declare their rosters by Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. If Langkow is placed on long-term injury reserve, he will be out for a minimum 10 games. Feaster hinted that a second forward—possibly Stajan—could also be placed on the long-term injury list.
As of Monday, the Flames were over the league’s $59.4-million salary cap. Two players on the injury list would give the club some wiggle room, but Feaster pointed out that’s only a short-term fix.
“Having a player start on (long-term injury list) does give you some flexibility as far as managing the cap, but the thing to remember about it is that there’s always a day of reckoning when player or players come back,” he said.
“You have to be in compliance. It’s a short-term solution, but not a long-term solution to our cap situation.”