SMOKIN’ ACES

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.

2012-13

  • EV: 69, 10-17-27
  • PP: 69, 3-4-7
  • PK: 69, 0-0-0

2013-14

  • 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?

  1. Eric Tangradi 55, 38-50-88 (1.6 points-per-game)
  2. Mitchell Moroz 6, 6-3-9 (1.50 points-per-game)
  3. Shawn Matthias 53, 32-47-79 (1.49 points-per-game)
  4. Blake Comeau 60, 21-53-74 (1.23 points-per-game)
  5. 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:

  1. has size and attitude
  2. can and will fight
  3. drives the opponent to distraction
  4. can think on his feet
  5. can make and take a pass
  6. 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.

  • D

    LT,

    If the Oilers are going to compete consistently for the Stanley Cup, is it safe to say that one of the deeper draft picks would have to perform like a top ten first rounder? Kind of like what happened to the Oilers in 1979 and some of Detroit’s later round gems?

  • Lowetide

    D: Maybe. A guy like Joensuu may end up grabbing one of the remaining spots and holding on for years–there’s no set formula.

    Edmonton entered the NHL with three huge drafts and a lot of interesting players like Brett Callighen, Blair MacDonald, Stan Weir and others. By the time they won Stanley, lots of those players (and other things) had been cashed for guys like Linseman and Lindstrom and the club had signed free agents like Huddy and Gregg.

    Right now the Oilers have Dubnyk, Petry, Eberle, Hall, Nuge, Yakupov, Gagner, Hemsky, Smyth as former draft picks. That’s 9. If they win Stanley 5 years from now, will they have more than 9?

    Maybe. And they’ll probably see a few draft picks turn into NHL players from the 2008-13 group, but they might end up being trade assets.

    The current Oilers still have work to do, but the jobs are being taken–especially up front.

    • D

      Thanks LT. It’s exciting to think that the Oilers are finally transitioning to the point where they can consider these issues (rather than restocking the cupboards).

      • Lowetide

        I think MacT is going to roll over quite a bit of the 50man list in the coming months. The blueline depth bubbling under is crazy and it looks like Dillon Simpson might be very good (PLUS NURSE!!!).

        On the other hand, they’re going to need a do over in goal and more wingers who can play. So, lots of changes.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          “Dillon Simpson”

          At what point can the team expect something like a definitive answer from the player about signing an ELC this summer?

          I can foresee two situations:

          1) they clear some of the blue in a 3-1 trade (3-1!!!) and essentially choose Simpson over say Gernat and Musil. Simpson sees a path to the end zone and signs with EDM.

          2) Simpson sees the road jam ahead of him and looks to pull a J. Schultz on us. In this case, could the Oil try to trade his rights to at least get something out of it?

          • The Oilers Shot Clock

            Even with his family ties to this team it would be hard to blame him for dropping a number two on us. I doubt the team would take it personally either. I would also like to know if we can make a preemptive move with him.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Imagine if we took Keegan Lowe in that draft too!

            (apparently the kid requested his dad’s team NOT to pick him. wanted to make his own name, no drama, etc. smart move)

            The D would crazy stacked… and I’d totally tell them to find other work and wish them well if we couldn’t find them a way to make it with us.

        • Batfink

          Goal is such a tough position to draft and project what will happen in the future,because it is more a mental position than a physical position.I think you are better off trading for a proven goalie,then you know exactly what you have.

    • Batfink

      Figure to loose Hemsky & Smyth in the next couple of years but add Nurse & Marinchin . Still at 9 . If we loose Dubnyk ( not sure) i’m not sure who replaces him , maybe Klefbom if he stays healthy . Getting to ten maybe hard .

      • Lowetide

        Among Oiler picks? Jeff Petry was a 2nd in 2006 and that’s it so far. Most of the guys on track to play in the NHL since Stu MacGregor took over as scouting director in 2008 are either defensemen like Marincin and Klefbom (who take a little longer to develop) or struggling to make the grade (Lander, Pitlick).

  • I enjoyed the role Moroz took on for his team in the raider game tonight. The raiders were getting drilled and started taking stick liberties and other inflammatory acts of douchebaggery and he went nuts. Couple misconducts and a bunch of F U….. PA in his game.

    Loved it!!

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Is it just me? Or is the future looking quite bright for the Oilers. Suddenly in the past two years we have prospects that we are excited about!

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    nice to see team depth starting to pile up(at d anyway)a few good waiver pickups for forward,but this year showa managment that dubnyk and labarbara are not the answer for this team,fix this issue and off to the races we go!

  • Batfink

    So, if Dooby posts a shutout and Hall and Smitty get hat-tricks, are we back in the playoffs? Flailing Arm Inflatable Tube Man, Flailing Arm Inflatable Tube Man! (analogy of fan opinion of players after one game.)

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    I’m guessing nobody misses Horcoff as much as poor Dubnyk. Hemsky probably points at him as reporters enter the dressing room for post games and yells “Look guys! There’s Devan.” Ryan Smyth surely has figured out a dressing room stall next to him equals less questions about how much he has left in the tank.

    Oiler fans and media can be like the creepy undertaker in so many westerns with their tape measure. “Just getting your size”……..

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Chase and Moroz are my new favorite prospects. Can’t believe how well Chase is doing after he dropped like a stone in the draft. Looks like he’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

  • Young Oil

    I am super impressed with Moroz and Chase as well! On top of that, we also have Platzer (6 points in 5 games), Nurse (3 points in 3 games), and Khaira (4 points in 3 games) doing incredibly well. I can’t remember the last time we had so many prospects doing so well!

    However, the prospect I am most impressed by (as LT brought up earlier this week) is Yakimov. His numbers might not seem as good (6 points in 10 games), but he is playing against men in the KHL! Here are his points/60 compared to another KHL rookie playing for the same team last year:

    Yakimov: 3.72 P/60

    Yakupov: 3.41 P/60

    Now, I’m not saying Yakimov is even close to Yakupov, and I realize that it is a very small sample size, but those are some incredibly good arrows. We may have a gem here.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If we run out of room/cap space after only 16 bodies, could we just run with this group?

    To conform with NHL regulation we could dress 3 manikins to help fill up the bench (they get so little icetime anyways). With progressive thinking like this, we could probably make due with one less coach as well, with 3 fewer bodies needing direction.

    Do manikins still get per diems on road trips, since they don’t need to eat as much?

    Game day….Go Oil!

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Oilers has mired in the basement for 7 years, partly because of the collective defensive funks they exhibits over that period, but most importantly, they do not have an AAA goalie that can win a game all by himself, ‘carry a team on his back’ type of goalie. Like a Grant Fuhr, Martin Brodeur or Patrick Roy to name a few. I look at the Leafs, they too were in the funk for over 50 years, they lack an excellent goalie just the same, until last year, when Reimer asserts himself as their prime goal-keep! And what do the Leafs do? They went and get a better goalie, in Bernier, and I don’t think the Leafs’ going to be able to keep both happy very long, maybe T Mac could swoop in and trade for either one of them! With prospects Nurse, Marincin, Moroz, Khaira, Yakimov, and Chase joining in the near future, Oilers will once again rule the world!!

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Funny that Moroz and Chase help fuel the Oil Kings vs. Hitmen rivalry but if they continue to produce they will probably be linemates down the road.

    In 4-5 years an energy Line with some scoring touch of Moroz-Khaira- Chase would be great to see.