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января 2002 года.
Seeing Morozov mature a pleasure // Tribune-Review
By Sam Ross Jr.
Seeing Aleksey Morozov score his ninth goal in the past 10 games was to witness living, breathing, hockey-playing proof of the old bromide about some of the best trades being ones teams don't make.
A year ago the word was the Penguins were shopping Morozov around the league, hoping to relieve themselves of a disappointing first-round draft pick from 1995. Whether they got no serious offers, or whether they thought better because of the Markus Naslund experience is not clear. What is clear is that Morozov is showing, at last, the promise held for him.
He actually put the puck behind San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov twice Wednesday night, but the first was waved off by referee Blaine Angus because of a bad puck drop.
Later in the second period, Morozov would show again his newfound aggressiveness, skating onto a rebound near the right circle, quickly feeding his own forehand, and rifling home the puck. That evened the score at 3-3, but the Penguins would lose eventually, 6-3.
It was a largely forgettable night for the Penguins, but another strong effort by Morozov, who now has equalled his career-best season total with 13 goals. He had scored only five goals last season in 66 games.
"I tell myself just to shoot the puck more," Morozov said. "When I have a chance, shoot the puck."
Playing with Mario Lemieux has helped, too. But Morozov deserves a large measure of credit.
The good news for the Penguins is that he's doing it here. Like Naslund, Morozov has been criticized for playing a soft game. Also like Naslund, he hadn't been scoring enough to make that a non-factor. When the Penguins finally gave up on Naslund, a 1991 first-round pick, all they got in exchange from Vancouver in that March 1996 trade was Alek Stojanov. Naslund had managed 25 goals and 42 assists in 151 games with the Penguins. Through 55 games this season, Naslund had 25 goals and 32 assists. Last season, he had 41 goals and 34 assists in 72 games.
This sort of thing is not isolated. The New York Rangers gave up on Alexei Kovalev and traded him to the Penguins in November 1998, largely for Petr Nedved. The Rangers came to the conclusion Kovalev's production would never equal his physical talents.
But last season, his third with the Penguins, Kovalev scored 44 goals and 51 assists in 79 games. His two goals last night bumped his total this season to 20.
Just a couple of trades, one the Penguins are glad they didn't make and one the Rangers probably wish they hadn't.
Kovalev is rooting for his teammate and fellow Russian.
"I'm very happy for him, to see him finally start scoring goals and making a difference for the team," Kovalev said. "That is the way he should keep it."
Remember Morozov, Kovalev and Naslund as the March 19 trade deadline nears.
With the loss last night, the Penguins remain outside the eight-team Stanley Cup playoff field in the Eastern Conference. But they are tantalizingly close with 29 games remaining to be played.
There will be pressure on general manager Craig Patrick to make moves to get the Penguins over the hump.
Some will suggest giving up young guys with a future for present producers. The problem is, the miscalculations tend to be glaring when these trades go wrong. One trade of Naslund for Stojanov is enough to last a franchise for a decade at least.
And, in a year when the franchise unloaded a marquee player in Jaromir
Jagr and seems to be coming out golden on it judging by Washington's spot
below the Penguins in the standings, better not to invite the wrath of
the trading gods.