We'll need that dead head off his chest immediately. Photo courtesy of CHL and Portland Winterhawks
While we were caught up in the push for the Cup, the rest of the league was busying themselves with the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. As we did last year, SBN has been running a mock draft and - son of a bitch - Vancouver went on the clock the day after the Game Seven loss. So I was slightly distracted.
I'll have more on this tomorrow in the draft thread, but my immediate guess was they still need to stockpile defensive prospects. As luck would have it, one of the higher ranked guys slipped into our laps at the 29th slot.
Meet WHL Portland Winterhawks defenseman Joe Morrow.
If you're interested in the simple, Morrow's father Dave Morrow was selected by Vancouver 56th overall in the 1977 draft. Huzzah.
Moving away from that, Morrow is projected as a puck moving defenseman who maintained a point per game pace in the 2011 WHL playoffs. At 6'1'' and 198 lbs, Morrow is a good passer, had a great shot and a bit of a speedster.
Morrow has had some injury troubles throughout his junior career, but has shown that he can be an effective puck moving defenseman in the WHL. Morrow is an excellent skater, and makes a nice first pass out of his own zone, seamlessly starting his team’s breakout. He also has a deceptive shot that he ably gets through traffic and on net, generating strong scoring chances for his teammates, particularly on the power play.
A two-way, puck-moving defenseman, Morrow's biggest strengths are his tremendous skating, his passing skills and his shooting ability. The Sherwood Park, AB, product boasts terrific speed and agility that help him carry the puck out of the defensive zone and join the offensive rush. An offensively gifted rearguard, Morrow's hockey sense and vision enable him to make good first passes and move the puck effectively in the offensive zone. Morrow also possesses a heavy and deceptive shot that makes him a threat to score or create scoring chances for his teammates from rebounds. Morrow's offensive abilities make him a particularly effective anchor on the power play. As good as he is offensively, Morrow is also a solid player in the defensive zone who uses his strength and mobility to push opposing forwards off the puck.
Now for some negatives. From Bruins Draft Watch:
Doesn't have ideal size; strong and stocky with a lower center of gravity, but lacks the prototypical height that would see NHL teams lining up to take him in the top-5 if he had about three more inches on him. Has had to overcome concerns about his effort level this season; much better at playing a consistent game from shift to shift. Needs to work on getting his slap shot off a bit faster and switching up his shot selection so as not to be so predictable.
Again, the chance Morrow slips to 29th are slim. But if the stars align and he does - and also assuming he develops accordingly - he would join a prospect corps that includes Yann Sauve, Chris Tanev, Lee Sweatt, Kevin Connauton, Patrick McNally and Adam Polasek (for fun, let's chuck Ryan Parent in there too). Tanev and Sweatt are the best bets to make the jump next, but Morrow's development would put him alongside McNally and Connauton as long-term offensive blueliner prospects.
You'll note the Bruins Draft Watch compares him to Dan Hamhuis, but one that can develop into a PP QB and be a constant threat on the rush. It may be the Chicago uniform talking to me, but I read his future as a potential Brian Campbell-type player as well. Connauton offers a similar style, but I'll gladly roll the dice on another blueliner with a cannon shot who may be able to make an impact when the current Vancouver D men enter their early to mid 30s.