MONTREAL — The numbers are not on Joe Morrow’s side.
The Bruins believe they have nine NHL-ready defensemen. Morrow is not one of them, not when the unsigned Torey Krug and David Warsofsky have beads on the left-shot, offensive-minded role.
So as he enters his second training camp with the Bruins, the 21-year-old Morrow is trying not to look at the circumstances that would be required for him to start drawing an NHL paycheck.
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s a couple spots open and there always will be for whoever plays well,” Morrow said. “Whoever fits into that situation, they’ll be taken.
“You definitely can’t think about it too much. You’ve got to come into every battle like it’s a new day. It’s all I’m trying to do.”
The likeliest scenario has Morrow, who suited up for Tuesday night’s preseason opening 3-2 loss to the Canadiens, to remain in camp past the first round of cuts. After several games, Morrow will be sent to Providence. His assignment will be to log big minutes in all situations to continue the growth that two other clubs besides the Bruins believed would someday develop into a big asset.
The Penguins drafted Morrow with the 23d pick in 2011, the same year the Bruins took Dougie Hamilton in the No. 9 position. On March 24, 2013, the Stars acquired the defenseman in a deal that sent Brenden Morrow to Pittsburgh. Less than four months later, Dallas flipped Morrow to Boston in the Tyler Seguin trade.
Pittsburgh, Dallas, and now Boston see a skilled defenseman (6-23—29 in 56 games last year in Providence) who could become an attractive two-way threat. There are players like Krug who can make an immediate impact in this department. Morrow will need more time.
Three organizations have declared the defensive side of Morrow’s game as needing improvement. After a year in Providence, Morrow believes he’s made necessary fixes. He’s now a more consistent player than the newbie with too many ups and downs.
“At the beginning of the last year, coming through all those trades, things get said, and I would say it was pinpointed that my defensive game needed to be worked on,” Morrow said. “We fixed that pretty quickly.
“I was consistent through the year. I’m progressing on that point. I feel like I’m pretty even now, a good two-way player now. Just have to keep progressing on it.”
The Bruins will trade a defenseman to free up cap space to re-sign Krug and forward Reilly Smith. After being moved twice before he’s even dressed in an NHL game, Morrow knows he’s never safe.
“I felt solid in those other organizations and I feel just as solid here,” Morrow said with a smile. “What I’ve gotten from that is you can’t let it affect you. It’s part of the game.
“You get traded here and there. You get moved. It’s all for the better.
“I feel good in this situation. If I can play to the best of my abilities, I feel like they won’t have the need to get rid of me.”
Pastrnak still sidelined
Neither David Pastrnak (shoulder) nor Gregory Campbell (core) skated Tuesday. Pastrnak was injured during a collision with Matt Bartkowski last week. Campbell has yet to hit the ice during camp. The longer Pastrnak remains out, the fewer opportunities the rookie will have to make his case for a varsity spot. The 18-year-old will not have much time to ramp up into game shape before the start of the regular season Oct. 8. The practice injury underscores how teenagers like Pastrnak are at risk. The Bruins do not want to put their first-round pick in line for additional battering until his body is ready for big-league competition.
Cunningham on ice
Craig Cunningham practiced Tuesday at TD Garden. Cunningham didn’t play in Sunday’s scrimmage in Providence because of mononucleosis. Cunningham entered camp as a dark horse candidate for bottom-six employment on the right side. “He’s a gritty player,” said coach Claude Julien. “He’s a hard-working player. He competes hard every game. He’s also a guy who can play center or right wing. He’s a guy who’s going to get a look.” . . . Linus Arnesson did not practice Tuesday after skating Monday. Arnesson, the Bruins’ second-round pick in 2013, injured his groin during the rookie tournament in Nashville earlier this month . . . Matt Fraser, playing in Milan Lucic’s spot alongside David Krejci and Loui Eriksson, scored a power-play goal at 9:12 of the first. After taking a dish from Krejci between the dots, Fraser didn’t need much time to lock and load. He has one of the team’s heaviest shots . . . Julien didn’t think much of Eriksson’s performance as the No. 1 right wing. Eriksson had two shots and took an offensive-zone tripping penalty . . . Simon Gagne was called for two penalties. Gagne (zero shots in 15:06 of ice time) looks like he’ll need more shifts to find his legs after taking last year off . . . Malcolm Subban replaced Niklas Svedberg (18 shots, 16 saves) in the third period. Subban stopped nine of 10 shots. Big brother P.K. Subban didn’t dress.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.