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Pens make final cuts; Joe Morrow sent back to WHL

Joe Vitale's on the ground here, but he did enough to stick in the NHL through training camp.
Joe Vitale's on the ground here, but he did enough to stick in the NHL through training camp.

From the team

The Pittsburgh Penguins reduced their active roster to 23 players, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.
Forward Jason Williams and defensemen Alexandre Picard and Brian Strait were re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League (AHL). Defenseman Joseph Morrow was returned to his junior team, the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL).
Williams and Picard will have to clear waivers by Tuesday at noon before joining WBS.

Pittsburgh also placed forwards Sidney Crosby, Dustin Jeffrey and Nick Petersen and defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Boris Valabik on injured reserve.

The team leaves for Vancouver tomorrow, so today as the day to get under the 23 man roster limit.

What today's cuts mean:

  • Congrats to Joe Vitale for making the NHL team out of camp.
  • Also, perhaps it's only due to Jeffrey injury, but Richard Park beat Jason Williams out for a job.
  • Looks like Brooks Orpik will be ready to play early in the season.  That's the sign for the team sending Strait down and Morrow away seem to indicate that.  Hard to imagine the team would go on a west coast trip with only six healthy defensemen.
  • At the end of the day, no real surprise Morrow didn't stick.  Though he did have impressive moments, the Pens NHL blueline is pretty stacked.  And developmentally, there's nothing wrong with going back to the WHL to play a much larger role than he'd have in the NHL.  Also, it's one thing to look good in the pre-season, the regular season is a different beast.  Not often do 18 year old defensemen play in the NHL, and even fewer play very well.

And, after the jump the expected lines to start the year:

James Neal - Evgeni Malkin - Steve Sullivan
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Matt Cooke - Mark Letestu - Pascal Dupuis
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson

(Richard Park, Steve MacIntyre, Deryk Engelland scratched)