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Pens top pick Morrow might stick with team

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Friday, Sept. 30, 2011

Training-camp sensation Joe Morrow seemingly has only a slim chance to be with the Penguins when the regular season opens at Vancouver on Thursday. Still, there's a chance for Morrow, a defenseman and the club's first-round draft pick this year.

"Right now, we don't have Brooks Orpik (abdominal) on the ice, so there is opportunity that wasn't there before," coach Dan Bylsma said. "That opportunity may be there at the start of the season. ... (Morrow) is getting an opportunity because of his play, for what he's done on the ice and also because we have players that haven't been able to participate in games and some of the training camp."

Morrow can play only nine NHL games before this season counts as the first on his entry-level contract. If he's not with the Penguins, he will play in the junior Western Hockey League because he is 18. The Penguins have not had their first-round pick play in the following NHL season since center Jordan Staal won a roster spot in 2006.

Orpik did not practice again Thursday, and it is unlikely he will play in weekend exhibition games at Chicago and Detroit, as he continues to recover from offseason abdominal surgery.

> > Right wing Arron Asham returned to practice and worked on a line with winger Steve MacIntyre and center Mark Letestu. Other lines were: Steve Sullivan-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal; Matt Cooke-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis; Craig Adams-Joe Vitale-Richard Park; Chris Kunitz-Staal-Tyler Kennedy.

> > Nick Johnson, a right winger who the Penguins were high on, did not clear waivers and was claimed by Minnesota, where former Penguins assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher (general manager) and assistant coach Mike Yeo (head coach) are in charge. Johnson was among the Penguins' cuts Wednesday, but the club was hoping he would clear waivers.

"He's a player who I think can play in the NHL," Bylsma said. "It's a good opportunity for Nick, (but) it's disappointing to see some of the depth in our organization leave."

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