MORROW: MOVING FORWARD
By Tyler Rosten
For many players at Pittsburgh Penguins’ Development Camp, a new chapter was being written in their professional careers. Those newly drafted, signed or invited got their first taste of what it takes to be a Pittsburgh Penguin. For defenseman and 2010 first-round draft pick Joe Morrow, it was his final development camp before entering the professional ranks this fall.
While the Penguins’ eighth overall draft pick of 2012 and former WHL teammate Derrick Pouliot skated knowing he can return to the Portland Winterhawks for another season, Morrow does not have that luxury. Completing his final year of eligibility at the junior level last season with a deep playoff run, Morrow now hopes to crack the deep depth of the current defensemen on the Penguins’ roster.
“You try and go out here and do your best and solidify your spot in this organization. That’s what I’m trying to do and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here,” said Morrow.
Coming off the best statistical season of his junior career with Portland, Morrow is looking to cross the bridge into Pittsburgh. The nineteen-year-old Sherwood Park native registered career highs in goals (17), assists (47) and points (64) in 62 games this past season, ranking first among team defensemen in points and fourth overall on the team.
During the playoffs, Morrow continued his steady output with 17 points (4g-13a) in 22 games, sharing the lead among Portland d-men with Pouliot. Despite the effort of the blueline duo, the Winterhawks would lose in the Western Hockey League Final for the second straight year - this time to the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Morrow impressed many during Pittsburgh’s training camp last fall. So much so, that he was one of the last cuts by the Penguins before returning to his junior team. Now with his first pro season just over the horizon, Morrow isn’t concerned about exceeding expectations that follow him from last summer, rather just steady improvement.
“I just came in here trying to pick up where I left off and keep improving. Feeling more comfortable in this situation definitely helped,” Morrow said. “Coming back to the same coaches and the same guys around the room you can kind of judge where you are and if you’re making progress.”
Along with other development camp veterans like Nicholas D’Agostino, Reid McNeill and Scott Harrington, Morrow now has a better picture of the work, sacrifice, and commitment required to not only be a NHL defensemen, but also a Pittsburgh Penguin. He hopes that this experience along with his talent has him on pace to break through to the NHL ranks.