The bad news for Joe Morrow is that he was traded twice in less than five months. The good news? He wasn’t exactly dealt for stiffs.
Morrow, the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 draft, was part of a package sent from Pittsburgh to Dallas for Brenden Morrow last February. Then he was part of the megadeal that brought him to the Bruins with Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley.
“You can’t look at it as a bad thing,” said Morrow with a chuckle. “You’re getting traded for some pretty high-end players who’ve been in the NHL for a long time and will do great things in the future. You have to look at it as a positive.”
Morrow, however, has surely had enough moving around in the past few months. He’d like to settle in and go about the business of developing into an NHL defenseman. By all accounts, his first pro season last year that was split between Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Texas of the AHL was a big adjustment. Though he liked the way he finished the season, Morrow didn’t dispute that he had some growing pains.
“I thought it would be a lot easier, personally, coming in and trying to adapt to the pro game style. But it was a shock and it took me a month or two to adjust,” said the 6-foot-1, 204-pound Morrow, who missed rookie camp with an adductor strain but was ready to go for Thursday’s first on-ice session.
“I’ve heard it’s not that easy for defensemen, especially, to come in at a young age and be an All-Star right out of the gate. I had some struggles right out of the gate and I believe in the future it will definitely make me a better person. I feel more confident and stronger.”
The biggest challenge in the transition?
“You’re not playing against boys anymore in junior,” said Morrow, who is likely headed to AHL Providence. “I felt I was one of the higher-end players in junior and I didn’t have to worry about anyone pushing me around, but you trade from boys to men and there are definitely some big guys that are trying to hurt you out there. And there are guys with immense amounts of skill that will make you look like an idiot.
“You just have to be careful, take it one step at a time and simplify things. I was never a simple hockey player. I like to keep it interesting and entertaining. I definitely had to simplify my game to make it work.”
“Interesting” and “entertaining” are usually not the first two things coach Claude Julien looks for in a young defenseman. But while Morrow, like any other player, would like to make the NHL as soon as he can, he’s happy to be an organization that has time to develop him.
“Absolutely. The more time the better,” he said. “You definitely want to make it to the NHL as quick as possible, but you don’t want to be one of those guys that plays one season and they realize you’re not suited for it because you didn’t have enough time to develop.”
Third line battle
The most interesting competition of the camp will be for the two open third line spots. It’s a good bet that Chris Kelly will be on it somewhere, but the rest of the unit could be filled out by two among Carl Soderberg, Daniel Paille, Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner, Smith or Fraser.
However the line is comprised, Julien expects both grit and goals from the unit.
“I think ideally, we saw the line that we liked when we won the Cup,” Julien said. “We had Kelly, Peverley and (Michael) Ryder. Not only were they a dependable line, but they were able to give us some scoring. In a perfect world, you’ve got your top two lines that you’d like to see score on a regular basis. Your third line should be able to give you some secondary scoring and also some secondary grit that your fourth line gives you.
“We need more than two lines to score. Our fourth line has given us that, but we need our third line to give us that as well and at the same time, defensively and on the gritty side of the game, they’ve got to be able to give us some of that, too.”