Pens recall Joe Morrow

USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins dip into their minor league system to give 2011 first round pick Joe Morrow his first crack at a regular season NHL game.

From a team release:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled defenseman Joe Morrow from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, it was announced by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.

Morrow, 20, will be looking to make his NHL debut Sunday night against New Jersey. The 6-foot-1, 204-pound blueliner has spent his first professional season with WBS, tallying 10 points (2G-8A) in 39 games played.

Morrow, who was drafted by the Penguins in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft, has posted two points (1G-1A) and a plus-5 rating over his last nine AHL games.

It's a curious move, because most have used phrases like "tearing down his defensive ame" and "needs a lot more work in his own zone" to describe Morrow's first professional season. Known as a gifted skater with good puck control, movement and shot, Morrow only has two goals and eight assists in 39 AHL games so far this season.

Morrow played a very good training camp in 2011, giving many optimism he'd quickly return to the NHL level. He definitely has all the physical tools to be an impact player, but it's important to remember he just turned 20 a couple of months ago and has a lot of growing still to do.

It'll be interesting to see who Morrow will replace. Defenseman Kris Letang has missed the past two games with an undisclosed injury, and Matt Niskanen has missed seven in a row with a lower-body injury. Niskanen got back on the ice for the first time recently in this morning's skate, but still his return is not imminent.

Deryk Engelland got in a fight yesterday but looked no worse for wear the rest of the game, so we'll see who Morrow replaces in the lineup. Dylan Reese, Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres could all be candidates to sit, considering their position on the depth chart.

Morrow will become only the second skater to lace 'em up for the Pens that was born in the 1990's (Despres being the first).

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