In case you haven’t noticed, Penguins GM Ray Shero has had a busy few days, picking up Jarome Iginla, Douglas Murray, Jussi Jokinen, and Brendan Morrow. In addition to all of the new additions, the Penguins have had to also deal with unforeseen circumstances, such as the injuries to Paul Martin and Sidney Crosby. Many are already criticizing Morrow’s time in Pittsburgh without a point, but its possible Morrow may not be solely to blame for his performance, but Coach Bylsma, as Morrow is most effective in another role than he’s been playing recently.

Is There a Tomorrow for Morrow?

You’ll have to excuse me for a second, but I think the easiest way to explain this is through a geeky analogy:

So imagine you just got hired by Google, as an executive. You’re not Larry or Sergey, but you’re in the top 10 in the organization. Great, huh? You’re in your first week on the job, when the organization tells you they’ve hired Sean Parker to replace you and you’ll actually be demoted to an executive assistant position working alongside a 23 year old and a misfit. You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled with your job and your performance might drop.

Although the analogy may be a little simplified considering the Penguins situation, it illustrates why Morrow may not be best suited as a third-line winger alongside Matt Cooke and Brandon Sutter, but as the gritty space-opener alongside James Neal and Evgeni Malkin. In one game with Malkin and Neal, Morrow opened up space and drew defenseman towards him allowing Malkin and Neal to look better together than they have recently.

What the Lineup Should Look Like

Over the next few weeks, it appears that the Penguins will have to experiment with their lines in order to help offset the loss of superstar Sidney Crosby. In that time, they should not only look to return to their winning ways, but build chemistry in lines that will last into the playoffs. So what should the lineups look like you ask?

Prior to Crosby’s return from injury:
Kunitz – Jokinen – Iginla
Neal – Malkin – Morrow
Cooke – Sutter – Dupuis
Kennedy – Adams – Glass

I know, I know, this lineup would break “the best line in hockey,” but the reality is that without Crosby in the lineup, Kunitz and Dupuis just do not have the same room for operating that they are used to. Putting Iginla on the top line uses him to the best of his abilities, while spreading the offense around the lineup. Additionally, Brendan Morrow with Malkin and Neal could help remind Malkin of a time when Ryan Malone opened up highways for him up and down the ice. There is nothing positive about demoting Pascal Dupuis from the top-line, but if somebody has to go, Dupuis is the most adaptable and expendable.

After Crosby’s return from injury:
Kunitz – Crosby- Iginla
Neal – Malkin – Morrow
Cooke – Sutter – Dupuis
Kennedy – Jokinen – Adams/Glass

After Sid’s return, the lineup would only change nominally, replacing Jokinen with Crosby, while bumping Jokinen down to the fourth-line, while seeing considerable penalty kill time. Also, putting Iginla with Crosby is part of the reason he came here and has mentioned his desire to stay in Pittsburgh. Dupuis has been an extremely hard worker, with an unmatched adaptability on the team, but could be an effective third-liner alongside Cooke and Sutter.

Unfortunately, I think Morrow is unable to fill a role on a third-line, which means that the best place for him is the second-line with Malkin and Neal. I know it seems like strange logic; stating that he doesn’t fit on the first or third lines, so lets put him on the second, but Morrow’s strengths are what the second line lacks, whereas Iginla is best suited for first-line duties.