Hawks sign prospect from ND

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY BEN POPE, STAFF RE­PORTER bpope@sun­times.com | @BenPopeCST

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.

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