Joe Morrow, D Portland Winterhawks
Born: December 9, 1992 in Sherwood Park, Alberta
Strengths: Very good skater with quick burst/acceleration and superb lateral mobility. Adroit backwards skater with crossover skills to maintain his gaps and keep forwards from beating him with speed. Deceptive speed- can change gears quickly and boost the temp or slow things down when he has the puck. Move well along the blue line when working the point. Excellent passer and distributor; sees the ice well and has the hands to make all of the requisite passes. Can hit forwards with long lead stretch passes- good accuracy and touch on his outlets and leads. Has the kind of natural hockey sense that NHL teams covet in terms of being able to make the quick reads, see the openings and exploit defenses. Cannon shot from the point- hard, heavy and dangerous. Didn't find the back of the net a lot with it, but did see some primary assists due to teammates deflecting it home on the power play. Solid defensively; not a stalwart, but has shown improvement and more of a willingness to battle opponents and do the dirty work necessary to keep the puck out of his own net. Strong for his size- boxes out opponents and doesn't allow them to the net unimpeded. Not a great fighter, but has proven that he will drop the gloves when the situation warrants.
Weaknesses: 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.
NHL.com video on Joe Morrow
Portland Winterhawks opening montage YouTube Video (Morrow is #7)
Joe Morrow combine interview (B2011DW video)
Style compares to: Dan Hamhuis
Draft prediction: Morrow brings a specific skill set to the mix that should see him drafted earlier than many believe. B2011DW sees him as a good bet for top-15. More and more, teams are becoming fixated on on players of Morrow's style and caliber- guys who can advance the puck either by passing it to breaking teammates or with the speed and hands to bring it up the ice himself. If Morrow does get past 15, we can't imagine he'll be on the board much beyond the 20th pick.
Projection: No. 2 or 3 puck-moving defenseman and power play point man. B2011DW sees Morrow as the best option in the next tier of defensemen available in the 2011 draft once you get past the top group of guys like Adam Larsson, Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Murphy. How good Morrow is at the next level is going to depend largely on how hard he competes, but by most accounts, he dialed up the intensity this season and is figuring out how good he can be when he applies himself.
Background: Father, Dave, was member of Portland Winterhawks team that came to Oregon from Edmonton in 1976 and was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks. Older brother Josh played in the WHL for Medicine Hat, Tri-City, Kamloops and Kootenay, and was a seventh-round pick of Nashville in 2002. Scored 9 goals, 49 points in 60 games for Portland, added six goals 20 points in 21 playoff games in helping the Winterhawks reach the WHL championship series.
If Morrow had his own soundtrack it would be: "Unchained"- Van Halen
"I think folks outside the west are going to be surprised how high he goes on draft day. Could even pull a mini Thomas Hickey and go something like 8-12. Has no flaws in his game. Worst that could be said is he might have a somewhat low ceiling."- NHL Eastern Conference scout to B2011DW; May 24, 2011
"I saw him last year and was hoping he might be a guy we could steal later on, but I don't see it after the season he had. When you break it down, his skill level probably isn't quite what it should be if you're taking a guy in the first 15 to 20 picks, but in the bigger picture of what he brings to a team, I think he'll go there."- NHL scout to B2011DW; May, 2011
"I like him better than Duncan Siemens to be honest. Siemens gets a lot of his points from secondary assists and skating with Stef Elliott. I don't see the same kind of vision or creativity from him that I do from Morrow. I know this will come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I think Siemens is overrated when people are talking top-10 for him. He's going to be a solid middle-pairing guy, but if you want real upside from the defense position, I have Morrow ranked a little higher. Yes, he plays on a good team in Portland as well, but Morrow starts the breakout and is pretty good with puck distribution."- NHL scout to B2011DW; May, 2011
"You don't hear a great deal about the 6-1, 200-pounder from Sherwood Park, Alberta, but Morrow is one of those guys who could hear his name called much higher than most are predicting on internet chat sites and on some of the public lists you see. Morrow is not great defensively, but he's got such a live, athletic skating stride and can start that rush so effortlessly- the defense is much less of a concern for any NHL team looking to draft him. He does need to work on the mechanics of his shot- getting it off a little quicker, and in terms of his shot selection. He tends to force the big windup and slapper according to one of our NHL sources. Morrow stepped up his production in the WHL playoffs, scoring five goals and 16 points in as many games."- B2011DW on Joe Morrow; May 5, 2011
Morrow making big strides this season- Portland Winterhawks feature by Kristina Renda
Yahoo Sports Draft Tracker on Joe Morrow by Kelly Friesen