Hawks sign prospect from ND
The Blackhawks continued a busy summer of prospect signings with the addition of former Notre Dame forward Cam Morrison on Tuesday.
Morrison’s two-year contract will carry a $925,000 cap hit — the maximum allowed for entry-level deals — through 2023.
Morrison, who will turn 22 on Aug. 27, scored 27 points in 37 games in his senior season with the Fighting Irish, leading them with 13 goals.
He was a second-round pick of the Avalanche in 2016, but their draft rights expired Saturday. It’s unclear whether the Avs decided not to sign him or whether Morrison declined an offer to pursue free agency.
Morrison is a power forward with a big frame — 6-2, 201 pounds — who projects as a bottom-six player at the NHL level. He likely will start the 2020-21 season with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, but after a full four years at the college level, he’s closer to NHL-ready than many newly signed prospects.
‘‘[He’s] just a big body [who shows] scoring touch,’’ Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. ‘‘We’ve seen in the playoffs it’s nice to have a little bit of size in your group. I haven’t seen him play, I don’t know a ton about him, but I know we’re excited to have him.’’
Morrison’s stock was higher at the start of college, when he scored 24 points in 40 games as a freshman, but his production never really took off. In all, he finished with 95 points in 149 regular-season appearances and 15 points in 20 postseason appearances with Notre Dame.
Included in those postseason points were some crucial ones, though. Morrison scored the Irish’s lone goal in the 2017 Frozen Four at the United Center, the overtime winner in the 2018 Big Ten championship game and the eventual game-winner in the 2019 Big Ten championship game. (Notre Dame plays in the Big Ten in hockey.)
In February, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler ranked Morrison the Avs’ 14th-best prospect and gave a fair description of his game.
‘‘Morrison plays a powerful, net-driven game, making most of his plays around the net,’’ Wheeler wrote. ‘‘He’s not a dynamic offensive player, but he’s a good enough skater, he makes smart decisions with the puck and he’s effective on the cycle. He’s not going to put up big numbers at the NHL level, but it’s not hard to imagine him becoming a dominant AHL player who can fill in as depth option.’’
Hawks general manager Stan Bowman has signed a sizable number of prospects this summer: Morrison, Denver defenseman Ian Mitchell, Wisconsin defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk, Penn State forward Evan Barratt, Swiss forward Pius Suter, Russian forward Andrei Altybarmakyan and Czech forwards Michal Teply and Matej Chalupa.
Those signings not only add depth and talent to the Hawks’ prospect pipeline, but they also imply a significant overhaul of the IceHogs’ roster might be imminent. Anton Wedin and Jacob Nilsson already left for Europe, and Alexandre Fortin, Joseph Cramarossa, Joni Tuulola, Ian McCoshen and T.J. Brennan are free agents.
Notre Dame’s Cam Morrison (26) celebrates his winning goal in overtime against Clarkson during an NCAA regional game in 2019.