Defenseman Morrow ready to 'shoot for the stars'
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Joe Morrow won't be a newbie at the Penguins' development camp that starts Wednesday. The 2011 first-round draft pick was here a year ago and will share a locker room with nine players selected a month ago.
Neither will Morrow be the oldest or most experienced of the prospects -- wingers Zach Sill and Paul Thompson are 24 and 23, respectively, and fellow defenseman Simon Despres played 18 games with the Penguins in 2011-12.
Morrow, 19, is hardly middle of the pack, though. He had a strong enough training camp in '11 that the club gave some thought to keeping him, and he easily could be labeled the top prospect in the organization who hasn't cracked the NHL.
"I'm going to come in with the same expectations, the same determination I had last year," Morrow said recently. "I was on top of the world, getting treated well, and everything fell into place. I'm going to come in with the same kind of confidence I had. Being my second year rather than something brand new, I can play with a chip on my shoulder.
"I'm going to shoot for the stars, listen to everybody's advice, see how far I can take this. Do everything I can to stay as long as I can."
The Penguins are stacked at defense to the point where they are expected to make a trade because there are eight defensemen who require waivers if shipped to the American Hockey League. Still, Morrow, a first-year pro, could push his way into a slot on the NHL roster.
Because the preseason rookie tournament in which the Penguins usually participate has been canceled this year because of uncertainty surrounding the NHL's collective bargaining agreement with its players association, this week's development camp -- which concludes Saturday with a 3 p.m. scrimmage at Consol Energy Center that is open to the public -- is Morrow's only chance to impress team brass before the main training camp.
"I still remember all their systems, their little plays for defensemen," Morrow said. "It was such a drastic change from what I was used to, especially defensively. Now it's still stuck in my head."
Morrow, a 6-foot, 197-pounder who shoots left-handed, had 17 goals, 47 points for Portland last season, and followed that with four goals, 17 points in 22 games as the Winterhawks reached the final of the Western Hockey League playoffs.
He had to nearly suspend working on the Penguins system in his final junior season.
"It was a little more difficult to work on things that they wanted because it was shaped around their system and ours [in Portland] was quite different," Morrow said. "But I tried to do that as much as I could, especially defensively.
"Hopefully, once I get back in the Penguins' system, I can pick up where I was."
NOTE -- The Penguins are part of an apparently long list of teams that have a mutual interest with winger Shane Doan, an unrestricted free agent. His agent, Terry Bross, said of the Penguins by email, "They have been in contact, and Shane is interested." Doan, 35, has spent all of his career with the Coyotes/Jets, and has been the team captain, but the ownership situation in Phoenix is unstable. He has 318 goals, 788 points in 1,198 NHL games and could add size, skill and grit to one of the Penguins' top two lines.
First Published July 10, 2012 12:00 am