By Corey Rudd of StlSportsMinute.com for KSDK Sports
(KSDK Sports) -- When the St. Louis Blues announced the signing of veteran free agent left winger Brenden Morrow, it came as a bit of a shock at first. The Blues already looked to have too many forwards for too few spots as is, especially with the emergence of youngster Dmitri Jaskin, who is turning heads this preseason. Now, with Morrow's addition, the crowd among the team's forwards became even more jumbled and difficult to figure out.
After thinking about it further, the addition of Morrow really is not that surprising, considering the veteran's past with head coach Ken HItchcock. But it does create a numbers problem at forward, particularly on the top two lines, where many thought the lines were set.
Prior to the addition of Morrow, the Blues had David Backes centering Alex Steen and T.J. Oshie on one line with newcomer Derek Roy centering Chris Stewart and Jaden Schwartz on another.
During Tuesday's practice, Morrow had stepped into Schwartz's spot on the No. 2 line. According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hitchcock said the move was based on who is set to play on Wednesday night when the Blues take on the Minnesota Wild in the team's fifth preseason game.
Morrow has been a great player over the course of his career. The 34-year old has netted 249 goals and 542 points in his 13-year career.
But at this point in his career and after the emergence of Schwartz late in the season last year, the Blues should not sacrifice playing time for Schwarz in favor of Morrow.
Morrow may have plenty left in the tank. He likely will put together another productive season as he tries to prove his doubters and the rest of the NHL wrong for not offering him a more lucrative long-term deal.
But Schwartz was possibly the best player on the ice for the Blues late in the season and during the team's six-game series loss to the L.A. King. Schwartz was feisty, he was tenacious, he was making plays with the puck and elevated the play of his linemates.
Schwartz showed the type of two-way game that made him such a highly-touted prospect. He looked like a player ready to accept a role on a top-line as a complementary player that can provide grit, forechecking and disciplined play. Schwartz seems to be the perfect third wheel to the Roy-Stewart pairing, which the Blues are depending on for plenty of offense this season. Schwartz makes the line complete.
Morrow likely will do a great job on that line as well, if that is where he ends up. But it is not worth delaying the natural development of a guy like Schwartz, who has earned a shot at being a key contributor for the Blues this season.
If anybody should be facing a decreased role, it is newcomer Magnus Paajarvi, not because of his performance, but because who else should receive less minutes?
Morrow will make this team better, there is no doubt about it. He just should not see ice time at the expense of Jaden Schwartz.
Corey Rudd is a co-host of Fan Interference on CBS Sports 920 and insideSTL.com in St. Louis. He also owns and operates StlSportsMinute.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.