Hurricanes sign prospect Scott Morrow to contract

The UMass defenseman was the 40th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft

UMass defenseman Scott Morrow, pictured in 2021, signed an entry-level contract with the Hurricanes on Tuesday. (Stew Milne / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes inked one of their top prospects Tuesday, signing UMass defenseman Scott Morrow to a three-year entry-level contract.

Morrow, who is set to graduate after just three years in college, could have been an unrestricted free agent in August had the Hurricanes not been able to sign the 2021 second-round pick.

Morrow, 21, has been one of the most prolific offensive defensemen in college hockey the last three years, totaling 28 goals and 66 assists for 94 points in 109 games with the Minutemen. He posted at least 30 points in all three of his collegiate seasons.

“Scott is a dynamic, offensive-minded defenseman who has consistently been one of the top-performing blueliners in college hockey,” Hurricanes President and GM Don Waddell said in a statement. “He has shown the drive and dedication to graduate in three years, and we look forward to seeing the next steps in his development.”

Carolina used the 40th overall selection on Morrow after trading out of the first round at the 2021 NHL Draft. The Predators selected Zachary L’Heureux at No. 26 and sent the Hurricanes a pair of second-rounders — the first became Morrow and the second was used to pick Ville Koivunen. Koivunen was the centerpiece prospect in Carolina’s deadline acquisition of Penguins sniper Jake Guentzel last month.

Morrow did have leverage in negotiations given that he is set to graduate early. Instead of being eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2025, Morrow could have hit the open market this August. That led to him signing his ELC at the tail end of this season, burning the first year of his contract and putting him on the Hurricanes’ roster for the balance of the season since he is ineligible for the AHL.

Many players sign a professional tryout following their college or junior seasons so they can join their NHL team’s affiliate — Carolina is without a dedicated AHL team this year — but Morrow and the Hurricanes agreed to a standard player contract — a likely incentive to get the Darien, Connecticut, native to sign rather than enter free agency.

“Couldn’t be more excited to join the @Canes organization!” Morrow said on X. “Thank you to my family, and to all of my past teammates and coaches who have helped me get to this point. #CauseChaos”

Morrow is in Raleigh and will likely join the team for practices, perhaps as early as Wednesday at PNC Arena.