At last summer’s draft, the Edmonton Oilers made a somewhat controversial selection early in round 2. Mitchell Moroz–20 fighting majors, excellent size, speed and enough toughness to give smaller, less skilled linemates room to create. Moroz’ scouting report was manna from heaven for the Edmonton Oilers, and they jumped at the opportunity to select him. A year later, was it a good move?
This season, the Oil Kings (to my eye) did not employ Moroz on a skill line; in fact, for much of the season he was part of a designated "shutdown line" with Travis Ewanyk and Klarc Wilson. That line was a big part of an early season turnaround and Bruce McCurdy from Cult Of Hockey gave a great description of the line:
- McCurdy:The Oil Kings have two full-fledged scoring lines, so the Moroz-Ewanyk-Wilson trio is cast in the traditional third line role. They do get bonus time on the second powerplay due to the unconventional make-up of the five-forward first unit. While advanced stats like ZoneStart and QualComp (or TOI for that matter) are unavailable at this level, by eye they have been getting the same sort of assignments that you might expect to see a Smyth-Horcoff-Jones line get at the NHL level. The type of minutes that since-graduated Oil Kings like Rhett Rachinski and Jordan Peddle covered off in last year’s playoff run.
I think that was the story of Moroz this season. Despite post-draft discussions about his playing on a skill line in 13-14, the Oil Kings coaching staff saw him as a checking option with enforcer ability.
If the Oil King coaching staff, under the watchful eyes of the Oiler organization, see Moroz in a checking/enforcer role, who are we to argue?
The Oilers management has been telling for us years–and were probably telling the scouting department–there was an organizational need for a big, tough enforcer type who might be skilled enough to jump up into a top 6F role. Somewhere between Lucic and Glencross, there must be someone who can fill the void.
The search goes back to the turn of the century. In the early 2000’s, the Edmonton Oilers spent at least one pick per season on a big forward. These men routinely belonged in the 4th or 5th round but the Oildrop plucked them 50 slots earlier in order to make certain they’d be Oilers. Size mattered.
From 2000 through 2004, the Oilers spent at least one valued pick per draft on a player with size and some questionable offense:
- 2000-#35-C Brad Winchester, 6’5, 210.
- 2001-#52-C Eddie Caron, 6’2, 230.
- 2002-#79-LW Brock Radunske, 6’4, 199.
- 2003-#51-RW Colin McDonald, 6’2, 190.
- 2003-#68-LW JF Jacques, 6’3.5, 217.
- 2003-#94-RW Zach Stortini, 6’4, 225.
- 2004-#57-C Geoff Paukovich, 6’4, 207.
When the lockout ended, rule changes suggested that skill would be more important and the Oilers drafted smaller forwards (Cogliano, Gagner, etc) but the 2012 draft saw Edmonton shoot the moon again in an effort to find the modern Mike Bloom.
THE TOP 2012’S
Tom Wilson was the highest ranked enforcer type in the 2012 draft, and he was the first to come off the books. Here’s the Bob McKenziepre-ranking, with the actual selection listed second:
- #18 Tom Wilson (went #16 to Washington)
- #36 Henrik Samuelsson (went #27 to Phoenix)
- #52 Lukas Sutter (went #39 to Winnipeg)
- #56 Mitchell Moroz (went #32 to Edmonton)
Since the draft, Wilson and Samuelsson have improved greatly, Sutter has taken a step backward and Moroz has improved slightly season over season:
- Wilson 1.208ppg this season, .551ppg a year ago (+ .657ppg)
- Samuelsson 1.16ppg this season, .821ppg a year ago (+ .339ppg)
- Moroz .493ppg this season, .379ppg a year ago (+ .114ppg)
- Sutter .333ppg this season, .843 a year ago (- .509ppg)
Based on this season’s totals, it would seem the Oilers made the right choice by taking Moroz over Sutter. He certainly had the better season. Samuelsson is emerging as an outstanding young prospect, and Wilson had a strong season, too.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE IF MOROZ DEVELOPS?
The Oilers spent a lot of picks on this player type a decade ago, and the quicker the club fills this "need" the better, as there are other organizational areas of need (goaltending, center) that have to be addressed.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
My guess is that the Oilers fell short of getting the skill enforcer they were looking for, but that Mitchell Moroz may have a solid future as an Ethan Moreau-type: 15 goals and solid checking with the ability to imtimidate and drop the gloves.
A very useful player if he makes it. The Oilers avoided Lukas Sutter and appear to have a legit prospect in Moroz. He’ll do much of his work outside the scoring lines should he make the NHL.