It’s difficult to imagine a worse professional debut than
what Mitch Moroz has done in Oklahoma City. The former 32nd pick
overall from the 2012 Entry Draft has been almost entirely invisible as a first
year AHLer after two extra years of development with the Oil Kings. This year he
has gone 46GP, 2-3-5, with 92 PIMs. He was drafted just outside the first
Round by the Edmonton Oilers and now it looks like he will have to work just to
be a poor American Hockey League player, never mind reach the NHL.
What’s important to note here is that the failure of Mitch
Moroz to perform as one might expect a player drafted in the low 30’s doesn’t fall
on him. He didn’t choose to be drafted that high. The Oilers went extremely far
off the board to take him 32nd. In their Mid-Term rankings, NHL
Central Scouting had Moroz listed at 171 for Draft eligible kids. In their
Final rankings they had boosted him quite a bit but still only to 72nd.
The Oilers took him 40 spots ahead of where he was ranked. That’s their mess.
Looking back, it seems clear that the Oilers got too good of
a chance to know this player. Playing right in their backyard for the Oil Kings
they had every opportunity to find out what kind of character this kid had. I
know I just made that sound like a bad thing, but in this case it was. The
Oilers allowed themselves to like a kid so much that they would compromise the
integrity of their draft board.
The first thing they tried to sell Oiler fans (and
themselves) was that Moroz was a power forward with both grit and character.
Tambellini said this after Moroz was drafted, “He has quite a presence for a
young man. There’s a lot of upside there. We know he can contribute both with
the puck and obviously know he has the courage to stand up and take care of a
lot of people, too.”
Presence. Courage. Contribution. 25 points in his Draft
It’s times like this when I have to keep stressing that it
seems exceedingly rare for players to do things in the NHL that they were
not doing in junior when they were drafted. Considering the massive fail-rate
of all draft picks, ignoring important indicators of future success like actual
scoring when projecting a player to be a top six scorer in the NHL is bizarre.
When we fast forward to this year I struggled to find a
player in the AHL who is having as poor of a year in his debut. The
problem I kept running into was that nobody who scored so little was actually a
forward. Everybody was a defensive defenseman who was coming off of five years of
college hockey or some such nonsense.
Well, that is except for one player: Ryan Olsen.
Ryan Olsen was ranked 178th by NHL Central
Scouting in 2012, the same year Moroz was drafted. He was taken in the sixth
round, 160th overall by the Winnipeg Jets. This year in the AHL he
has 49GP, 2-4-6, with 26 PIMs. He’s not quite as adept at taking penalties as
Moroz, but he makes up for it by being marginally better offensively. Olsen is
also a right shooting center so that makes him a fraction of a percent more
useful to his organization than an equally untalented winger. Both Olsen and Moroz were drafted in the same year and went on to stay in the WHL for two more years before graduating to the AHL this year.
Here are the scoring totals of both players from the 2010-2011
to 2014-2015 seasons side by side:
|Year||Mitch Moroz||Ryan Olsen|
|2010-2011||1GP, 0-0-0||63GP, 7-7-14|
|2011-2012||66GP, 16-9-25||67GP, 15-17-32|
|2012-2013||69GP, 13-21-34||69GP, 32-24-56|
|2013-2014||70GP, 35-28-63||71GP, 30-34-64|
|2014-2015||46GP, 2-3-5||46GP, 2-4-6|
The picture I get when I look at these players is that it took Mitch Moroz until he was in his final year in the WHL to become just as good of a scorer as Ryan Olsen. Before that point, Olsen was clearly the better scorer. Olsen is 6’2″ and a shade under 200 pounds (listed) and Moroz is 6’3″ and almost 215. One is a second round pick and the other is a sixth round pick, but there was almost nothing to suggest that Moroz could have possibly turned out any better than Olsen.
In a round about way, I’m getting at the idea that no amount of character is going to make up for an obvious flaw like the inability to score. Every level of hockey is almost impossibly more difficult than the last and Milan Lucic was the equivalent of finding the Boardwalk token in McDonald’s Monopoly. Everybody wants one but all they ever get is Park Place.
The odds of Mitch Moroz ever having an NHL career are as bad today as they were the day he was drafted and the Oilers better have corrected whatever bizarre line of reasoning that lead them to believe otherwise. They need to do that because Craig MacTavish might have as many as seven picks in the top 100 this year and they can’t be wasted on heavy players with big hearts who can’t actually play.
If they haven’t fixed those errors then they’ll just be drafting the next Moroz or maybe the next four or five of them.