Standing Still

When the Edmonton Oilers drafted Mitch Moroz with the 32nd overall pick this summer, they were reaching. They took a guy with just 25 points in the WHL as an 18-year old (the next WHL forward selected, Lukas Sutter, had more goals than Moroz had points).

For the pick to work out, Moroz needed to take the next step, and fast. He’s done the opposite so far this season; he’s standing still.

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I wrote the recap for that pick here at Oilers Nation; the following is an excerpt from my reaction at the time:

Next year [2012-13] will be the one to watch – Lucic scored 30 goals in his post-draft season after putting up just 19 points the year before. If Moroz is going to have power forward upside, he needs to take a leap forward next season. Stauffer suggested that 25-30 goals are not out of reach for next season; if that turns out to be correct then this pick will look better than it does right now.

Moroz’s scoring line to date? Ten games played, zero goals, four points, minus-1.

It’s worth pointing out that it’s early right now. Bob Green, the Oil Kings general manager, told the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson that he wasn’t especially worried about Moroz’s struggles out of the gate:

He’s struggling a little bit right now. I think he feels the pressure. He has to relax and start having some fun and realize this is a process. He’s a way better than what he’s shown, but he’s a proud kid. He cares a lot, he works at things. He wants results — sometimes you try to do too much.

Green may well be right. By making the pick where they did, the Oilers’ scouting staff showed that they believe Moroz is more capable of generating offence than he’s shown to date.

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At this point in time, though, Moroz is one of the few negative stories, and certainly the highest-profile one, among the Oilers’ prospect corps. If he carries on as he’s started, the question won’t be whether he projects as a power forward or as a grinder at the NHL level; the question will be whether or not he generates enough offensively to have an NHL future, period.

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  • EasyOil

    Before the draft it was felt that the oil had need for a top end defender like Murray.They selected Yakupov who was the BPA.and perhaps threw a bone to scouts by allowing them to go off the board and select their second need a tough power forward.
    Moroz has the toughness but whether he will have the skill to even be in the AHL is very much up in the air.

  • #94 sized hole where my heart used to be...

    Moroz drafted where he was never passed the smell test with me, i always thought the oilers wanted Samuelsson in the 2nd and Moroz in the 3rd but when Samuelsson was picked by phoenix all bets were off.. nothing i personally saw in Moroz’ game last year showed he’d turn into a “Lucic” or “Lucic-lite” at the NHL level or any stats i saw showed he could really turn into that, the one selling point are past players career progressions but every players different, i didnt like moroz at that spot in the draft but i really want to be proven wrong.. only time will tell i guess

    • Dipstick

      You are spot on. A lot of people questioned the pick. I would really like to know if he wouldn’t have been there a round later. Ewanyk looks like a way better bet picked a round and a half later. Now that he is an Oil prospect, I’m cheering for him to develop into an imposing power forward, but it does not look promising at this time.

          • At the same age as Ewanyk is now, 6’2″, 203lb forward Drew Czerwonka scored at a 28-goal pace in the WHL. The Oilers opted not to sign him.

            There are only 50 spots for guys, and if you’re a junior forward who isn’t close to the point-per-game mark two years after being drafted, 90% of the time you aren’t getting signed.

            It’s cruel arithmetic, but that’s just the way life works. Travis Ewanyk’s WHL career to date screams that he’s not going to be an NHL player, and signing him means making a three-year commitment to him and possibly being forced to cut loose someone else as a result.

  • EasyOil

    I’d love to know whether it was a Stu MacGregor idea or a Tambellini idea to draft Moroz that early, or it might have even been mutually agreed.

    We won’t know for a few years yet obviously, but if Moroz doesn’t pan out, how highly regarded will Stu be then? It certainly shouldn’t make or break his career as a head scout, but it wouldn’t look good. At all.

  • Dipstick

    Stu looked very passive when talking about Moroz………the look he had tells me the player they most coveted (Samuelson) had just been snatched right from under their noses.

    This was Tamby’s call all the way and history will eventually uncover this. The draft should have seen the Oilers trade the top pick and select a power forward as we’ll as a top defenseman.

    Moroz will be a bust offensively ………another huggy bear coming up.

  • Truth

    It is early but I watched the game they televised on Friday and Moroz was invisible, minus the fight. A fighter should not be picked in the top two rounds unless he can also play. So far it looks bad on the Oil scouting staff. I’m rooting for him though.

    At least they didn’t pass on Yakupov. He looks like the real deal. I still believe Ryan Murray will be the second coming of Chris Phillips, without the physicality.

  • Montreal and Toronto both killed it, I think. After Galchenyuk, Montreal snagged Collberg 33rd, Dalton Thrower 51st, Tim Bozon 64th, Brady Vail 94th, Charles Hudon 122nd and then Erik Nystrom with their last pick.

    Far too early too judge, of course, but that’s a group that could look brilliant a few years out.

  • vetinari

    Moroz was a stretch that early in the second round but I think that it was a gamble that the team was willing to take, especially when you look at the other players in the pipeline… high skill guys, especially at forward– we got them all over the place… power forwards– we lack, and we can’t seem to trade for them or sign them.

    Frankly, I thought that at Moroz’s slot in the draft, the Oil would have gone for a defenceman and if they were high on Moroz, do a trade to drop down a few spots in the second round and then take him.

    Even if Moroz turns out in the long run to be a defensively responsible third or fourth line player that can terrorize opponents, kill penalties and chip in the odd point or two, the pick may still be worth it given the misfires that we’ve had with first rounders prior to Hall’s arrival (i.e. Schremp, Nash, etc.)

    • Moroz’s offence needs to improve just to get to that level, though. We’re 10 games in so I’m hardly writing him off at this juncture, but it’s probably worth noting that Ben Eager scored 16 goals and recorded 40 points in 58 OHL games at the same age.

      I think that’s the ballpark Moroz needs to finish in for us to talk about him as a useful future third/fourth line guy.

    • GVBlackhawk

      I think the point is that you don’t need to draft 4th liners 32nd overall. You can get an established bottom six forward any summer during free agency.

      Moroz has cement hands.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    seems like most of the Oilers big guy picks the last few drafts have been gambles….Martindale, Ewanyk, Hamilton, Bigos, Abney, Plante, Gernat, Khaira, Zharkov and Moroz. i’ll be surprised if even a few of these guys ever play for the Oilers!

    • DSF

      No word on that yet but I would be surprised if it isn’t.

      If the NHL returns this year, you’ll likely see an abbreviated schedule based on playing with conferences.

      However, it also wouldn’t surprise me if the NHL doesn’t have a new schedule with realignment included all ready to go.

  • 24% body fat

    Instead of reaching with moroz and hoping Jujhar Khaira could also be it. Why does Tambellini not grow some stones and make a trade to move up and get a Tom Wilson, or Tyler Biggs.

    I get last year was about aquiring D, and Biggs would have cost us, but this year packaging some picks and a prospect to get a player who isnt so much of a reach and more likely to develop is not a bad thing. At worst moving up 5-10 spots to get Samuellson.

  • I don’t think they will flat out reject it, but I do think they will send a counter proposal that still includes profit sharing.

    I said from the start that I ddidn’t think the players would object to 50/50 if profit sharing was in place that would make them comfortable that there would not be another slary clawback or lockout in another 5-6 yrs.