October 04 2013 11:42PM
Finally getting the opportunity to play with skill, Mitchell Moroz is taking full advantage. At 19 and in his final season of junior, a fast start and productive minutes were a must for the big man. Six games in: music!
(Moroz photo by Lisa McRitchie)
The day Mitchell Moroz was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers, it was a dream come true. Alberta boy makes good, local club finally finds a big, tough winger who can skate and arrive in ill humor consistently.
- Moroz: "I figured I would go in the second round. It was overwhelming and surprising to go that high. I knew the Oilers liked me. I am excited to be a part of the organization. Growing up they were my favorite team. It is a dream come true and I am very thankful."
Moroz ran in place offensively a year ago, as the assumed "push" up the depth chart failed to materialize. The Oil Kings used Moroz (once again) in a checking role with Travis Ewanyk and rode their veteran offensive players to another successful season.
This year, things are different--although it's early. Through six games, Moroz has impressive boxcar numbers (6, 6-3-9 +2) and is playing with skilled men like Henrik Samuelsson and Curtis Lazar. If he can keep that up, a 20-25 goal season (or better) is certainly possible.
HOW GOOD DOES HE HAVE TO BE?
One of the things we should pay close attention to this season is his special teams point totals. Moroz should be dominating at evens because of age, but he's also getting an opportunity to get some PP time and that should be reflected in the stat line.
Redline Report on Draft Day
- Big, edgy power forward plays an in-your-face style and looks to initiate hard contact all over the ice. A feared enforcer who picked up 20 fighting majors, yet skates and handles the puck well enough to take regular shifts. Coaches eventually rotated him into the top six to give scoring lines a boost – gives smaller, skilled linemates more room to work with his physicality. Has surprising offensive tools with a heavy snap shot. Puckhandling confidence is soaring and he’s willing to try things with the puck now he wouldn’t have dreamed of six months ago. Skating enables him to play in open ice and even has decent lateral agility. Spins off checks to find space and gets to open ice. Emerging force uses great size/strength to dominate below the circles and is impossible to move around crease. Development curve is heading straight up and has upside.
- EV: 69, 10-17-27
- PP: 69, 3-4-7
- PK: 69, 0-0-0
- EV: 6, 5-3-8
- PP: 6, 1-0-1
- PK: 6, 0-0-0
There's clearly a move north this season, but we should expect that, he's 19 and a man among boys. The key will be sustain, and there's a very nice group of players we can compare Moroz to courtesy Scott Reynolds at Copper and Blue. Scott's article listed several players and compared Moroz to them at the same age.
What did that group do at age 19?
- Eric Tangradi 55, 38-50-88 (1.6 points-per-game)
- Mitchell Moroz 6, 6-3-9 (1.50 points-per-game)
- Shawn Matthias 53, 32-47-79 (1.49 points-per-game)
- Blake Comeau 60, 21-53-74 (1.23 points-per-game)
- Dane Byers 72, 21-27-48 (.676 points-per-game)
Milan Lucic was already in the NHL (77, 8-19-27) and Colton Gillies was in the NHL at 19 (45, 2-5-7). This isn't a fair comparable--Moroz is off to a hot start and he could go weeks without posting another 9 points--but this will be a fun item to track during the season to see where he ends up on the list. As Reynolds noted in his excellent original piece, this is a pretty good neigborhood no matter how this turns out.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
When the Oilers took Mitchell Moroz they were looking for a winger who:
- has size and attitude
- can and will fight
- drives the opponent to distraction
- can think on his feet
- can make and take a pass
- displays a range of skills
The skills really haven't emerged yet, or hadn't until this season. Sometimes it's about the player, sometimes it's about the opportunity. Early returns are very good on Moroz at 19, but there's a lot of bullets left in the chamber. We'll have another look in November.