May 26 2014 04:57PM
In that instant indicated in this photo, Mitchell Moroz' life got complicated. I remember it well, watching NHL network and Peter Loubardias saying kind things about him as the Family Feud 'clang' indicated the selection. Mitchell Moroz the Oil King became Mitchell Moroz the Oiler draft pick, releasing tens of thousands (well, tens) of draft experts to wail about the wasted selection.
Facts are the first thing overboard in Oilers Nation. We're all guilty, although some of us will blame shoddy memories as opposed to framing the issue. Having said that, let's look at the draft bible (the Bob McKenzie final list) to see where Moroz was ranked:
McKenzie had him No. 56 overall, so late second round. Edmonton selected him No. 32, a reach of 24 slots, or about one round. I don't think it's a stretch to suggest it was a reach pick, and I said so at the time.
I think Oiler fans would have felt a lot better about this draft if the club had drafted (say) Matt Finn at 32. It’s also true that Moroz is a “trending” prospect. Kirk Luedeke from Redline report tweeted me this evening with the following: Luedeke: if his emerging skill set legit, with his toughness, Oil would have missed boat. We had Sutter higher, yes. But we also should have had Moroz higher, too. Not a bad pick- folks questioned Lucic at 50 in 06.
"Sutter" was Lukas Sutter, who was taken by Winnipeg and has endured a difficult development track. On the day of the draft, the Oilers stated their case to Jason Gregor.
- Stu MacGregor “You always have to step up if there was a player you like. We liked him, we followed him and his developmental curve is on the way up. He provides some toughness, but not just toughness, he’s a good hockey player. He takes the puck to the net real hard and he shows a little bit of touch around the net. He’s only played one year of junior and I think he’s got an opportunity, with continuous development and drive, to be a good player for us.”
THE REST OF THE STORY
It doesn't matter where they take you, it's what you do about it.
Mitchell Moroz worked hard for two years on a shutdown line (with fellow Oiler pick Travis Ewanyk) and then this season on a more offensive line. It's been miles of hard work, and all of it under the microscope in Edmonton. If you follow twitter, you know it can be vicious and unfair, and for a young athlete like Moroz, the thought of playing in Swift Current or Kelowna or Brandon must have seemed like heaven at times.
Well. Sunday he was a big part of the Memorial Cup win, playing, for my money, the best period of his hockey life in the second. He scored the game winner, made a nice play on the insurance goal, and was tremendous all over the ice.
Stu MacGregor talked about the opportunity, but Moroz took advantage. And on Sunday, he shone like a diamond.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The jobs Mitchell Moroz will be applying for at the NHL level are tough to get. There aren't many and every season brings a new contender. The Edmonton Oilers made a bet on him, and he worked his bag off to deliver under a microscope.
The report card came Sunday, and it's A's across the board. Damned if he didn't get it done. A contract, 35 goals and a prime role in a WHL championship and a Memorial Cup.
The critics have turned into fans, at least for this season. What's that old line about what doesn't kill you making you stronger
Wow. Well done, Mitchell Moroz. Well done.