The Pittsburgh Penguins surprised many people by selecting a defenseman at #23 in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Portland Winterhawks defenseman Joseph Morrow became the newest member of the Penguins last night.

Most people expected the Penguins to draft a forward considering their need at the position of right wing especially but GM Ray Shero selected the best player available on the board at the time.

Morrow was ranked #12 North American Skater by Central Scouting and #27 by our own Jesse Marshall.

Here is Jesse’s scouting report on Morrow:
Morrow battled injuries all year long, but when the going got tough in the playoffs, he had one of the better performances in North America and was the 2nd leading scorer among defensemen in the WHL playoffs. Morrow is a mobile defenseman with good size and speed. He’s not hesitant to start the rush himself and skate the puck out of danger. He’s got excellent vision and a great heads-up style of skating. He surveys the ice as he carries the puck and makes crisp passes to his forwards. Morrow’s shot isn’t high-caliber, but he hits the net with regularity and is a threat on the power-play.

Morrow is a great skater, think a combination between Paul Martin and Kris Letang. He posseses a Paul Martin like shot – accurate and to the net but not overpowering by any stretch of the imagination.

According to Jesse, he is not the smartest of players and tends to make mistakes in his own zone. However, his great skating ability allows him to cover up for those mistakes. (Sound like Simon Despres/Kris Letang to anyone else?)

Many people were upset Shero and Co. did not select local product Brandon Saad. Saad was injured much of the year and there were questions surrounding his work ethic but there were few in the draft with a better shot or better skating.

Other players on the board included: snipers Matt Puempel and Niklas Jensen, amazing dwarf Rocco Grimaldi, Sea Dog Tomas Jurco, and Boone Jenner.