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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Who is Joe Morrow?

The first round of the NHL draft is over and for those of us with high enough draft picks, we might be happy right now...or not.  The Penguins had the #23 pick in the first round this year, a far cry from the early-mid 00s where a top 3 pick was all but guaranteed.  This year had to be the year of the defensemen and centermen, encompassing 20 of the top 30 picks.  To no one's surprise, I guess, not a single goalie was taken in the first round.

So with 23 on the board, the Pens management thought long and hard about their pick.  As a somewhat educated observer and albeit fan of my team, I also played the role of GM Ray Shero for a moment and scouted my list of potential draftees, looking for the best fit to fill a need.  The obvious choice would have been to go for a winger.  We always need wingers.  When your team plays host to three of the best centermen in the NHL today (Crosby, Malkin, Staal if you were wondering), it's only logical to get as many role playing wingmen to compliment their on ice talent.  I had my eye on Brandon Saad, the 18 year old from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania (a little town about 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh).  I mean, come on.  He's a hometown boy, as a kid his heros were Penguins, he fills a needed spot on the wing, and he's not too shabby of a player either, ranked as the 19th best North American skater in the Central Scouting rankings.  The fact that he was even still available at this point was a shock to me considering at one point, he was a top 10 pick in most mock drafts.  But for Saad, the first round came and went and the Saginaw Spirit forward has to continue his waiting game.

Instead, Shero went with the recommendation of his scouts (this is why I'm not a scout).  With the 23rd pick of the first round, the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Joe Morrow, defenseman from the seemingly endless talent laden Portland Winterhawks.  I will admit that I was a little shocked by this pick.  Not that Morrow is some slouch or anything.  But what was all the craziness last year come free agent time with the signing of Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin?  Isn't that the combination they had been looking for to fill the shoes left by Sergei Gonchar's departure?  But in the end, it's the logic of the draft strategy that won out.  In the first round of the draft, you generally don't draft for need, you draft for the best available.  I do it in my fantasy leagues so why wouldn't I think of it here?  Position is always the tie breaker between two players of equal strength, skill, and scoring ability.  The need players come later when surpluses become available positionally.  I get it, I just thought a hometown guy...nevermind, forget it.

So who is Mr. Joe Morrow? Morrow was placed at #12 on the list of top North American skaters eligible for the draft back in May by the Central Scouting Bureau.  He's considered pretty tough of a defensemen with not only strength to win the battles along the boards but quickness to be able to transition between zones.  He is a two-way defensemen that can put the puck in the back of the net as well as many mid-tier forwards.  He had 9 goals and 40 assists last year, helping the Winterhawks to their first division title in 9 years.  Plus, come playoff time he doesn't disappear into the wallpaper.  He added another 6 goals and 14 assists on the way to a berth in the WHL finals.  He is also a big Call of Duty guy when he's not watching episodes of Entourage or Tom & Jerry cartoons.  But I can go on and on about this guy or just let the professionals do it for me. 

 Check this out...

Fowler?  Maybe.  Coffey?  Not a chance. (prove me wrong, Joe)