Once upon a time, Jeremy Morin was the 19-year-old future of the Blackhawks.
Acquired in the trade that sent Dustin Byfuglien to the Atlanta Thrashers after the Hawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, Morin was a big hit in prospects camp as a rookie. He was impressive in training camp, was endorsed by captain Jonathan Toews (among other veterans) as ready for the NHL and nearly made the season-opening roster. With offensive skills you can’t coach, it seemed like it was only a matter of time.
Four years later, Morin is on a yo-yo between Chicago and Rockford, still trying to find his niche in coach Joel Quenneville’s system. In a bit of an ironic twist, Morin’s latest opportunity came Friday, when the Hawks unveiled another 19-year-old future star in Teuvo Teravainen. Maybe there’s some value in being in the shadows.
Morin, who will turn 23 on April 16, was recalled from Rockford for the fourth time this season. In 15 games with the Hawks in 2013-14, he has one goal and four assists and is a plus-2.
‘‘Mo’s . . . really made some progress in his game, especially when he was playing up here,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘He had some purpose to his game. He had some good energy, physically involved. He really had some good pace.’’
The Hawks seemed to be rewarding Morin for his perseverance as much as for his productivity. Morin has responded well to each demotion and has 47 points in 47 games with Rockford. In his last 18 games with the IceHogs, he had 15 goals and 10 assists.
‘‘He deserves a chance to play in the NHL,’’ general manager Stan Bowman said. ‘‘He provides some offense and energy. He works hard. It’s hard for young kids when they go up and down, but he went down and played great for us. We’re very excited about that.’’
While some hot prospects fade as missed opportunities and poor timing pile up, Morin seems determined to keep his star shining.
‘‘He’s been skating really well — the best I’ve seen him skate in four years here — and competing real hard and being very opportunistic,’’ IceHogs coach Ted Dent said.
Morin’s enthusiasm was evident in a short stint (6:52 of ice time) in the Hawks’ 3-2 victory Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes. He had two hits in his first shift and another big hit in a scrum after a Hurricanes penalty.
‘‘I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious to get back up here,’’ said Morin, a first-round draft pick by the Thrashers (24th overall) in 2010. ‘‘It feels great to be back out here. I’m excited about it. I think I definitely have more confidence. I’m playing pretty well, having success in Rockford. I feel good about my game right now. Hopefully, I can translate it to Chicago.’’
With Patrick Kane out for the rest of the regular season with a lower-body injury, Morin figures to get what might be his best chance yet to establish himself as a regular with the Hawks. He thinks he’s ready for that opportunity.
‘‘I feel really comfortable on the ice,’’ Morin said. ‘‘I’ve matured. I’ve gotten stronger every year. I feel I’m skating the best I’ve ever skated. Obviously, that helps your game out a lot. Hopefully, I can bring that up here and bring some energy and good things will happen.’’
The alternative — a return trip to Rockford — isn’t that appealing. It can be a tough drive to Rockford even if you don’t play for the Hawks.
‘‘Especially with construction,’’ Morin said. ‘‘It’s not too fun.’’