A PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT

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Mitchell Moroz is seven games into his AHL career and has zero points. Is this a big deal?

NO!

The AHL is a major jump from junior, and we see a period of adjustment each year that impacts CHL kids far more than college or Euro players. Here’s a list of CHL grads and what they accomplished in their first seven AHL games:

  1. Tyler Pitlick 7GP, 1-2-3 11 SOG
  2. Curtis Hamilton 7GP, 0-3-3 7 SOG
  3. Ryan Martindale 7GP, 0-2-2 6 SOG
  4. Jujhar Khaira 7GP, 0-0-0 13 SOG
  5. Mitchell Moroz 7GP, 0-0-0 10 SOG
  6. Travis Ewanyk 7GP, 0-0-0 8 SOG
  7. Kale Kessy 7GP, 0-0-0 4 SOG
  8. Cameron Abney 7GP, 0-0-0 3 SOG

Of the group of junior forwards who arrived in the AHL 2011-12 through this season, the first seven games of their AHL careers weren’t overly productive. The 11-12 group all showed well, but each faded as injuries impacted—that’s the big lesson here, stay healthy!

COLLEGE MEN!

Every season, the college kids begin like a house on fire and I get dm’s and emails wondering what the hell is wrong with the junior players. Answer: Nothing. College kids are usually older, more experienced and have been playing with 25 and 26 year olds for a couple of years or more. It makes a big difference. Let’s have a look at some of the players who have graduated from college and how well they did in that first seven-game window.

  1. Tanner House 7GP, 1-4-5 14 SOG
  2. Andrew Miller 7GP, 1-3-4 12 SOG
  3. Chris VandeVelde 7GP, 1-2-3 7 SOG
  4. Mark Arcobello 7GP, 2-0-2 9 SOG
  5. Hunter Tremblay 7GP, 1-1-2 11 SOG

None of these men were draft picks (or at least high ones) but in their first AHL seasons hit the ground running. It’s a marathon not a sprint, but the college man has the edge early days, even if he doesn’t possess any draft pedigree. The poster boy for Edmonton is Mark Arcobello, as close to a walk-on as you can get in hockey.

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    College defenders often adjust more quickly to the AHL game, with men like Dillon Simpson (in photo) and Jordan Oesterle adjusting immediately to the minor league game. Long term, it has less impact. A player like Martin Marincin is rare though, having jumped from junior hockey and established himself as a legit NHL prospect in his first AHL season.

    WHAT ABOUT MOROZ?

    He’s playing, and sooner or later the pucks will go in. Offense isn’t the entirety of his game, and remember he’s 20. A young man like Mark Arcobello was older and had the college experience when he entered the AHL, and Teemu Hartikainen played in a tough European league. Moroz is made for a gritty tough game, and should thrive eventually in the minors (hopefully on his way to the NHL).

    The points aren’t coming. It’s normal. He can’t be getting a lot of PP time and with the Hamiltons, Kale Kessy and Luke Gazdic on the Barons’ roster it’s a tough depth chart. Whatever the gap between junior and the AHL, it appears to be bigger than college or Euro to AHL. Mitch Moroz will be fine. It’s a period of adjustment.

    “I feel like I’m right there, not out of place at all.” Mitch Moroz

    Source

    (Photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)

    • Raider Jesse

      Whew, thank goodness the likes of Pitlick, Martindale, Abney, Kessy, Ewanyk, and Hamilton all showed that a slow start in the AHL won’t stop you on the way to greatness!

      • Lowetide

        It’s true of other teams, too. The Red Wings have put Martin Frk, Tomas Jurco and others on the ice from junior and it’s taken awhile. Their current kid, Andreas Athanasiou, is off to a nice start though.

        College guys adjust more quickly, they just do.

        • Frk and Jurco were monsters in junior. If I were to create a rating system based on how much/loudly I’ve boo’d opposing players, those two would be high on the list. Mantha would be at the top.

    • Zarny

      I was not a big fan of the Moroz pick at the time, but it’s fair to note that there aren’t a bunch of guys drafted around him that have lit it up.

      But is it fair to ask something like “Hey, Seth Griffith is another smallish player that had a nearly a PPG in his first draft year (2011) but went undrafted, then had a boatload of points in the following year (2012)in the OHL, wasn’t picked until the 5th round, and has arrived faster than many. Maybe there’s something to this?”

      • Lowetide

        I think the Oilers identified Moroz as a guy who MIGHT be able to play with skill and reached for him (by about 20 picks, based on McKenzie’s list).

        It isn’t a crazy idea, the Oilers need that big player (Benoit Pouliot an example). And if he doesn’t turn into that player then he could be a 3line or 4line guy.

        I don’t like picking for need, but you can see why they did it.

        • Rdubb

          I think its not only that, but the Oiler brass were able to see him much much more than most other draft elidgable players…with him being an Oil King and all for those who were unaware of WHL team…
          Management liked his “peskyness”, how he would try and throw opposition players off of their games, and he was good @ in the W, so lets just hope that he can carry that over to the AHL and then to the NHL. Edmonton hasn’t had a true pest since the Esa & Linsmen days…fingers crossed

    • OilersDynasty

      I think that the Oilers need to hire an excorcist and purge this team of any curse that may have been placed on it.

      Ho else does one explain the zero puck luck this team has. Watching highlights of other teams and the goals they score makes me beleive this………most goals scored in this league are the “bounce around and deflect of something”, type of goals.

      When was the last time the Oilers score a lucky goal?

      • Spaceman Spiff

        Missed the Ranger game last night, but have noticed a lot of “one and done” shots lately. If guys were driving to the net when guys like Yakupov are shooting and causing big rebounds, I think our puck luck might improve a little. Arco’s last goal is a perfect example of this. Am I the only one noticing this, or do I need to pay more attention during the broadcasts?

    • Lowetide

      Our drafting is terrible. When the media is making hay over the fact that Luke Gazdic is almost ready *gasp* to join the team, you know that the cupboard is bear. That’s why we’re relying on hopefully “out of left field” pickups like Iiro Pakarinen to save the day. I loved it when people were going apoplectic over Tyler Pitlick going on waivers. Uh…with all due respect, Oiler fans, there are a million Pitlicks out there in the league.

    • Lowetide

      The down fall of the Oilers…..procuring almost nothing outside of #1 overalls since 2007, when the first rebuild began.

      Then there is Colorado who can yank Duchene, O’Reilly and Barrie out of one draft. Insta rebuild.

      What a disaster. That hockey game the other night was horrific(Buffalo).

      Do you think we could trade Yak for Johhny Hockey? Hahahahhaha, just kidding. I will only post realistic trade possibilities in the future.

      • Lowetide

        Actually, it is worrisome. Because I’m not convinced that any of these guys are true “up and coming” NHL talent. We’ve struck out a lot lately with our draft picks. Paajarvi didn’t work out for us. Lander hasn’t worked out for us. Omark, Pitlick, Hartikainen, Abney, Martindale, Zharkov, Musil (lol coulda had Jenner), etc. all likely won’t work out for us. I’m not convinced the new crop is much better.

        • OilersDynasty

          Pitlick hasn’t lived up to what he was billed as, but he’s going to be an NHL player. Hartikainen worked out, he just didn’t want to work on some stuff management asked him too so we said bye-bye. Abney was just a terrible pick from the start. Zharkov is your typical Russian (although I was excited at the pick when it was made). Omark, don’t know what to say there. All the talent in the world, just lazy. Paajarvi, like Lander, was rushed. Can’t blame them. Musil was a solid pick, as he was a 1st round talent that slipped to 31st. Yeah, we could’ve had Boone Jenner, but so too could have 5 other teams (STL, FLA, NYI, DET, CHI). This next batch of prospects is a lot better: Yakimov, Khaira, Moroz, Chase, Platzer, Houck. We stopped going for coke machines and drafted for size, skill, grittiness. Add in Nurse, Simpson, Gernat, Davidson, and Lagesson, and we have a strong prospect base there.

    • Rdubb

      Re: Bad drafting comments – The problem for the Oilers is that they traded away/let walk the few role players they drafted from 2004-2009 that are needed now. It takes time to develop non-1st round prospects, with many flaming out along the way. While the Prendergast era was a disaster, we are only now starting to be able to assess the McGregor era.

      When people point to the Kings, Hawks, or Penguins as models for the Oilers, the big missing piece is the fact that those three teams had the complimentary players in place/late stages of development while the Oilers had nothing in the minors and a weak player development system. That is why they keep winning – they have a good stable of cheap complimentary pieces in the system so they can afford to let role players walk and just replace them with younger cheaper options that are ready to go.

    • Spaceman Spiff

      I’m thinking that the lack-of-offence is a tell-tale sign of things to come. Moroz just isn’t going to score that much as a pro … mainly because he didn’t score that much in junior.

      Look at his stats as an Oil King – less than half-a-point a game in his first two full seasons in the WHL and, in his graduation year, he had … drumroll … 35 goals and 63 points.

      Can he be a pro? Maybe … but I’m not thinking he’ll make it to the NHL. Granted, I’ve only seen him play live, once, during the Oil Kings’ series with the PA Raiders last year, but he didn’t look like he had NHL wheels at all.

      Don’t want to pile up on the guy too much – he’s tough and he made definite strides in his 20-year-old season. But I do think that you have to take those strides with a grain of salt, as you would with any 20-year-old. If you’re about to age-out of junior hockey, you’re a good 20 to 30 pounds heavier than a lot of kids in that league and, on average, two or three years older. And if you’re playing on a powerhouse, the skew furthers.

      That said – I think the Oilers will be patient with Moroz for a season or two. But don’t bet the farm on him.