Been working on season-preview stuff all day, so due apologies for the late reaction to the Penguins’ latest roster moves.
The two big developments are the designation of C Sidney Crosby on the injured reserve list, and the return of D Joe Morrow to his junior club in the Western Hockey League. Both moves were expected, though Morrow did, I’m told, give coaches and scouts pause to consider keeping him for the start of the season – though, to be candid, I’m also told there was no chance he was going to play more than nine games at the NHL level.
♦ As one Penguins regular told me about Morrow: He looked great in camp, but it was camp.
As another Penguins regular told me about Morrow: He wasn’t “Staal-great” – a reference to C Jordan Staal shocking everybody by earning a roster spot during the 2006 camp. Staal was too good that camp to return to his junior team, and 29 goals later he proved that GM Ray Shero’s assessment that he belonged in the NHL was spot on.
Morrow, if nothing else, jumped to head of the class regarding the organization’s top prospects. He is now ahead of D Simon Despres, though the Penguins still see Despres as a likely impact player in the NHL. They see both Morrow and Despres as impact players, actually – and pending their respective developments this season, that could make next summer interesting, but that discussion is a long way off.
♦ As for Crosby, this designation, as I’m told, does NOT mean he couldn’t play, say, this weekend. (He has said he won’t play Thursday in the opener at Vancouver.) He has been on the IR since last season, so the traditional seven-day wait period doesn’t apply to his return.
That being true, nobody is expecting Crosby to play on this trip through Western Canada. He still must be cleared for contact, then progress through stages of contact, and then feel comfortable with the idea of returning to a game.
Again, making predictions are foolish. The only thing that is new on the Crosby front is that if he was ready to play this weekend, he could by league rules. There are no indications he is ready.
♦ The Penguins are off today, though I’m not told if Crosby skated.
♦ Joining Crosby on the IR are Fs Dustin Jeffrey and Nick Petersen, Ds Robert Bortuzzo and Boris Valabik. Re-assigned were F Jason Williams and Ds Alexandre Picard and Ben Strait. Williams and Picard must clear waivers by noon Tuesday before joining the AHL team. (The Penguins expect those players will clear.)
♦ Sometime before Thursday I’ll post the annual “Rossi Looks Foolish” predictions for players final goal totals. I can almost hear Phil Bourque laughing at what I’ve got for some guys, but let’s not forget I’ve been pitch-perfect the past two years with at least one guy: RW Pascal Dupuis. And here I had teachers who said I didn’t know my French. Pshaw.
♦ Thanks for all the kind words on this story: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_759827.html
A special thanks to the Twitter follower who pointed out a math error. Those teachers were apparently right.