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Insider Only Morning Penguins Buzz: On Morrow’s impact, Bennett’s ability to play in all situations, Murray’s presence & Paul Martin’s future

Brenden+Morrow+yAkxGoJGE6vm MORNING PENGUINS BUZZ
(1) Of the Penguins four key acquisitions (Brenden Morrow, Jarome Iginla, Douglas Murray, Jussi Jokinen) prior to the trade deadline, it’s fair to say Brenden Morrow has made the biggest impression on Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. Bylsma again last night was raving about Morrow. “The physicality he’s brought, the straight-lines, the presence he’s brought almost every game he’s played,” Bylsma said of the intangibles, physical play Morrow has brought to the table. “He’s added on the score sheet as of late but that’s really only a small portion of what he’s brought.”
Morrow’s big night vs the Canadiens included 2 goals, 1 assist and mixing it up with Canadiens star defenseman PK Subban who Morrow feels took a cheap shot at him when the two began to drop the gloves. “I wanted to stand up and throw some punches,” Morrow said of the fight where Subban jumped him a second early before Morrow was set to begin fighting. “I was upset with how it went.”
Morrow has 5 goals and 3 assists in the midst of a four game points streak and when acquiring a struggling veteran player like Morrow was in Dallas playing a 4th line role, as a GM you hope he has a resurgence going to a top contender and that’s what’s happening here with Morrow.
Don’t think Morrow’s resurgence in Pittsburgh doesn’t have scouts with other contenders taking notice when it comes to Morrow’s pending free agency as he’s showing he still has some hockey left in him.

(2) Beau Bennett continues to impress on a game by game basis and his hockey IQ is what continues to standout. The play he made near the boards in the neutral zone using his body to protect the puck leading to a 2-on-1 setup for a Brenden Morrow second period goal is something a lot of rookies just don’t make.
With the Penguins additions to the lineup prior to the trade deadline, you can tell Bennett figured out he has to find a way to fit on one of the bottom two lines and he’s showing despite being a skilled player, he can do the little things such as good wall play and get in on the forecheck to be a fit on the 4th line.
“I think his ability and be ready to play in that 4th line role,” Bylsma said when asked about the best thing Bennett has improved this season.
“What I think he’s shown when he steps in different areas of game, whether it’s a 4th line, still contributing guy, can make a play and add there,” Bylsma said of Bennett. “He’s been physical, a guy who’s been making plays. Tonight makes a great wall play there in the neutral zone in the second, gets the puck and ends up making a great pass on a 2-on-1 to Morrow,” Bylsma said. “{He’s} done really good job of showing he can be in different spots, physicality on the forecheck or making plays in adding 4th line role.”
That is the key to him seeing time in the playoffs as there’s no available spots in the top-9 if Crosby is back and despite arguably being one of the Penguins top-12 forwards (when this group is fully healthy), I still have doubts Bennett starts out among the regular playoff rotation if everyone is healthy.

(3) Defenseman Douglas Murray is another newcomer who also seems to be making a great impression on Bylsma and that says something as Bylsma is always infatuated with skating, puck moving defenseman.

Despite having slow foot speed, Murray continues to be a cog in boxing out in net-front and had a strong game last night with a goal, +1 rating, 5 blocked shots and 3 hits. “His presence was felt in this game in a lot of other ways,” Bylsma said of Murray. “Physicality, {has added} net-front presence to our team.”
We still have a ways to go and we’ll see how everything shakes out but Murray is a player I hear the Penguins have been very impressed with in what he brings to the table on and off the ice. At the right price, I think they consider bringing him back and while this is a discussion for the off-season, the Penguins should at least consider the possibility of maximizing Paul Martin’s trade value at the draft who has two years left on his deal with a $5 million cap hit and is on the wrong side of 30 at age 32. Something to chew on.
I’m sure some of you will say move Brooks Orpik but Orpik does not have the trade value of Martin who has two years remaining on his deal and management regards Orpik as the heart and soul of the team. Orpik is a free agent next season.
In a cap world, sometimes you have to explore these type of difficult decisions and with Simon Despres ready for an increased role next season, I don’t believe it’s a crazy idea. That said, Martin has a no movement clause so this would be an unlikely scenario.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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