#12 PROSPECT (winter 2012): MITCHELL MOROZ

I sometimes wonder if there’s any communication between Oilers management and the Oil Kings coaching staff. On Friday night, Mitchell Moroz played a few shifts with Henrik Samuelsson (best forward on the team) and Curtis Lazar and the results were exceptional: physical, fast and furious and ultimately a victory for the home side.  I wonder if the Oilers ever walk down the hall and suggest that trio might get a 10-game chance to show what they can do? Or is that waiting for the playoffs?

I went to the Oil Kings game on Friday night and was delighted to see Mitchell Moroz play a feature role (early on). Moroz had several chances and with a bit of puck luck might have scored a couple of goals. Someone told him to drive to the net with authority because that’s all he did–it was a “saw him good” moment for this Oiler fan.

Summer 2012: #17

Winter 2012: #12

Pre-draft

Bob McKenzie 56; Redline Report 102; ISS 170

  • Redline Report: 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.
  • Craig Button:Mitchell is a player who enjoys the physical game. He will hit and punish opponents but is also willing and able to stand up to the challenges that comes with playing that particular style. He’s a very good skater and can close on opponents very quickly and thus there is not a lot of wiggle room to avoid a check when he’s on the ice. Because his skating is so good, he can play versus better players and make them uncomfortable. He plays in straight lines and is very effective along the boards. He doesn’t run around without purpose and he is very effective in his approach. He has very good awareness playing and is capable of contributing in areas other than physical play. He battles for the puck, will go to the net and is a player who plays with energy and an undeniable spirit and determination. He gives players on the ice a certain comfort but only if you are on the same team. Playing versus him, is a challenge and not fun because he is focused on doing what he can to disrupt you and help his team win.

I don’t think anyone was shocked when the Oilers selected Mitchell Moroz, but the timing (early 2nd round) was a surprise.

12-13

Moroz has been all over the depth chart: early on he was getting feature minutes on the top 2 lines and his scoring numbers (3-6-9 through his first 11 games) reflected it. After that, Moroz dipped and dived and has not found the range (13, 1-2-3) since the calendar turned to November. He was part of a solid crash and bang unit (with Klarc Wilson and Travis Ewanyk) but if he keeps playing depth minutes Moroz is not going to approach the 20-25 goal range one would expect for a future “power forward.”

#12 ranked prospects on December lists:

  • December 2004: L Brad Winchester
  • December 2005: C Kyle Brodziak
  • December 2006: L Dragan Umicevic
  • December 2007: D Alex Plante
  • December 2008: G Jeff Deslauriers
  • December 2009: G Devan Dubnyk
  • December 2010: D Jeff Petry
  • December 2011: G Olivier Roy
  • December 2012: L Mitchell Moroz

Despite the movement up and down the depth chart, Moroz has increased his offense (especially at evens):

  • 11-12 PP 66, 5-1-6 .091
  • 12-13 PP: 24, 1-1-2 .083
  • 11-12 EV: 66, 11-8-19 .288
  • 12-13 EV: 24, 3-7-10 .417

I keep going back to the draft, and how high the organization was about this player.

  • 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.”

Look, I’m just some guy in his basement with the single lightbulb and the shop vac in the corner, but my goodness it doesn’t seem to me the Oilers drafted a guy 32nd overall in the hopes he’d play a depth role in junior. I’ve seen games where Mitchell Moroz looked like the puck was alien, but there have also been games like Friday night when it looked liked the light went on.

When given the opportunity early in the season, Moroz wasn’t far from a point-per-game. The guy I saw Friday night could do big damage given the chance. However, on Sunday Lazar and Samuelsson were back with Stephane Legault.

At this point, Mitchell Moroz is tracking about equal with Zack Stortini as a junior. I’d love to know his TOI totals and wonder if the Oilers organization believes this is the best way to handle Moroz. I’m missing something–a sense of entitlement from the player, or punishment for bad penalties, or wild bouts with consistency–because to be very honest with you Mitchell Moroz looked like a dangerous power forward for at least a period and a half on Friday night.

Something’s amiss.

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29 Responses to "#12 PROSPECT (winter 2012): MITCHELL MOROZ"

  1. sliderule says:

    Three goals!!

    Unless the kid can shed those hands of stone he is Abney lite.

  2. jonrmcleod says:

    Dragan Umicevic? Have to admit that I had never heard of him before today.

  3. jp says:

    jonrmcleod:
    Dragan Umicevic? Have to admit that I had never heard of him before today.

    I remember him. Slow-footed Swede scorer. Nicknamed “the Burninator” in Sweden (due to his name). Never came over to NA, his best season was 55-11-25-36 in the SEL in 09-10 and appears never to have been a plus player (+/-) in a SEL season his whole career.

  4. Justified says:

    Anytime anyone begins with the query “I wonder…” this song immediately pops in my mind,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw-BpTZAFRY

    If you haven’t seen the movie “Searching for Sugarman” it is a must see, jaw droppingly incredible plus you get introduced to the hidden treasure that is Rodriguez.

  5. Clay says:

    That Dave Hunter jersey is a beauty! I’d buy that for a third jersey.

  6. blackdog says:

    Funny how out of the seven #12s before Roy all but one have played in the NHL, at least three look to be quality NHLers and Winchester is still plugging along as well.

    I think they could have had a better player in this draft slot no doubt about it but I also think they see an upside in this kid which many(most) of us do not.

    At least he can skate. That’s the one thing with these kids who may end up as bottom sixers – Zharkov, Pitlick, Hamilton, Pelss – these kids can all skate. He’s no Abney. And Stortini had/has big skating issues.

    So he can skate. If he can drive the play the right way, defend, chip in a little bit of offence, then he’ll have a shot.

  7. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Brodziak, Dubnyk, Petry — that’s three pretty darn good players who have previously been ranked way down in the 12 hole. (EDIT: Black Dog beat me to it, but the point stands)

    Loving this series as usual, LT, and that historical look at who was ranked in a specific slot in the past is a real eye opener. Not to mention the fact that you’ve got NINE YEARS worth of rankings to share.

    You take this blogging gig seriously, don’t you?

  8. Matt.N says:

    I was at the Oil kings game on sunday. Watched Moroz as closely as possible. He sure didn’t stand out much. No PP time. Very straight line player. He can keep up through the neutral zone but cant be expected to handle the puck on the fly. He looked effective down low in the offensive end. Board work, battling in front of the net. He is a compliment player, but I don’t think he has the hands or hockey sense to play with NHL talent. I feel like the Oil Kings staff feels the same and doesn’t want him on with Lazar (who was spectacular BTW).

    If things break right, he works hard and avoids injuries we could end up with Brad May. Tops out at 15g playing 4th line minutes, with occasional spin up in the order. Plays physical and is a middle weight enforcer. There are a lot of things that need to break right for that to happen.

    My issue with this pick at the time of the draft, and still today, is that a fully grown version of what we hope Moroz becomes is available every year through UFA or trade. The Oilers already have one of him in Ben Eager. Why not spend that pick on a player with higher upside? Someone who can really help your lineup if he pans out. Players like Finn, Aberg and Colberg were still available.

  9. RexLibris says:

    Martin Frk, 6′ 200 lbs, winger. In the QMJHL this season over 25 games has 12G 23A 35 pts, 52 penalty minutes and is +9. Taken 49th overall by the Red Wings.

    Finn would’ve been nice too, but Frk might be one that a lot of teams kick themselves for passing on.

  10. VOR says:

    I don’t know why this is hard for Oilers fans to accept but the team seems to have a very distinct draft philosophy. LT has talked about parts of that approach on numerous occasions. In these last few horrid years the Oilers have gone with hockey talent at 1OV and physical talent if picking elsewhere in the first round. In the 2nd and 3rd rounds they have gone for kids on their board regardless of other teams rankings, or for that matter team need.

    The Oilers board is clearly heavily influenced by testing at the draft combine. There is research that shows that at least 5 of the combine tests are predictive of career potential and those seem to be the ones that sway the Oilers. In other words they are actually quite systematic in their approach and are practicing sound science. After round 3 they go with their scouts picks like most teams. Though they really like it if that pick did well at the combine as well.

    The Oilers really wanted H.S. in the second round but he went early. They really wanted Tom Wilson but he was gone. They’d have gladly taken Dumba but he was gone. The guys the Oilers did pick with their next three choices were great at the combine and had moments on ice that suggested the combine numbers went with some serious talent.

    Simply put the Oilers don’t care what position the person plays but they want tremendous cardio-vascular systems, superb strength, a projectable frame, and forceful character on and off the ice. Moroz is all that. Boxcars don’t enter into it. Players like Finn, Aberg, and Colberg will only get selected if they are still available after players that fit the Oiler mode have been picked.

    Like it or not, there clearly is a plan, one that is supported by history and science. It is a very conservative strategy designed to prevent tanking a draft and likely to create “assests” for future trades. While we can pick at individual draft choices and criticize the overall blandness of the approach it certainly seems to be working.

  11. spoiler says:

    I thought Hamilton was coming in this slot. I suspect Moroz hits 12 as much because of others dropping as what he has accomplished this season. Both of the top goalies, Rieder and Zharkov are having disappointing seasons and I suspect all 4 would be ahead of Moroz if that weren’t the case.

    I also largely agree with Pat (Black Dog) and VOR above.

  12. loosemoose says:

    Matt.N,

    Nicely put. I agree wholeheartedly.

    VOR,

    I agree with this as well.

    But I don’t like it, and I’m not sure how successful it really is.

  13. jonrmcleod says:

    RexLibris,

    Frk’s numbers are a bit inflated because he’s been playing on a line with MacKinnon and Drouin.

  14. Woodguy says:

    You take this blogging gig seriously, don’t you?

    LT’s first blog was mimeographed sheets that he handed out in front of Edmonton Gardens.

    At least he can skate. That’s the one thing with these kids who may end up as bottom sixers – Zharkov, Pitlick, Hamilton, Pelss – these kids can all skate. He’s no Abney. And Stortini had/has big skating issues.
    So he can skate. If he can drive the play the right way, defend, chip in a little bit of offence, then he’ll have a shot.

    This is the main point.

    Very few forwards make the NHL who can’t skate. Some Dman can get away with being slow if they have a fast brain, but forwards just can’t.

    The AHL is littered with guys who have soft hands but slow feet.

    Skating is prized over many things. I guess they think if they can keep up with the play they can teach them the rest. They’re probably right.

    The bottom 2 lines on most teams have a few guys who can skate at NHL speed, have figured out how to think the game a little, and chip in from time to time.

  15. Нинтендо⁶⁴ says:

    “Mitchell Moroz is tracking about equal with Zack Stortini as a junior”

    Kudos to those who jumped on skating. Zack could not do what Button’s describing here.

    “somethings amiss”

    Maybe I’m just a half glass full sort of guy, but it’s early in his 2nd full year on the team and he’s starting to force his way into some prime time on a Memorial Cup team. They relied on him more heavily last year as they went deeper into the year and it’s going to be more of the same this yea. This is a team that got into the Memorial Cup one year ahead of projection and it’s a lockout year. If the treatment is a response to attitude I’d be concerned. But If he has to fight all year long to become the go to guy come playoff hockey that’s a good thing. His finishing will improve along the way with less drama.

  16. Нинтендо⁶⁴ says:

    “Mitchell Moroz is tracking about equal with Zack Stortini as a junior”

    Kudos to those who jumped on skating. Zack could not do what Button’s describing here.

    “somethings amiss”

    Maybe I’m just a half glass full sort of guy, but it’s early in his 2nd full year on the team and he’s starting to force his way into some prime time on a Memorial Cup team. They relied on him more heavily last year as they went deeper into the year and it’s going to be more of the same this year. This is a team that got into the Memorial Cup one year ahead of projection and it’s a lockout year. If the treatment is a response to attitude I’d be concerned. But If he has to fight all year long to become the go to guy come playoff hockey that’s a good thing. His finishing will improve along the way with less drama.

  17. CrazyCoach says:

    Woodguy: LT’s first blog was mimeographed sheets that he handed out in front of Edmonton Gardens.

    I always wondered who that guy was out in front of the Gardens when my dad would take me to Alberta Oilers games. My dad said the guy was a commie and wouldn’t let me go near him what with it being the middle of the cold war and all. Looks like I missed out.

  18. CrazyCoach says:

    Woodguy: Skating is prized over many things. I guess they think if they can keep up with the play they can teach them the rest. They’re probably right.

    I know in today’s Canadian hockey system, skating is weighted pretty high on the evaluation chart, and that starts right at the U-16 level and goes right on to the WJC players. I think we realized about 15 years ago that heart and emotion, combined with excellent speed goes a long ways.

    I also know I’ll take a kid with good skating and minimal offensive skills any day over a kid with incredible hands and slow feet. Good skating skills make playing/teaching the other technical skills that much easier.

  19. Lowetide says:

    I’ve mentioned it a few times over the years, but Gilles Tremblay as a rookie told Toe Blake he could help keep the puck out of the net but couldn’t score enough. “I’ll help you with scoring goals” was the Blake quote. I can’t find the exact wording, but swear its out there somewhere.

    Years and years ago, when we used to take the dayliner in from Maidstone to Edmonton, there was a young woman who would stand outside Edmonton Centre (with an older gentleman lurking) and in a monotone voice talk about “the end” and “your sins.”

    I wish with all my heart that woman still lives and writes a blog. She earned it.

  20. Woodguy says:

    Lowetide,

    Years and years ago, when we used to take the dayliner in from Maidstone to Edmonton, there was a young woman who would stand outside Edmonton Centre (with an older gentleman lurking) and in a monotone voice talk about “the end” and “your sins.”

    I know exactly who you are talking about.

    I was just a kid but I remember thinking “she looks so sad”

    She certainly earned any good luck that came her way, I hope some did.

  21. Нинтендо⁶⁴ says:

    May I offer you a testimonial of what Jesus done?

    If she does a blog nowadays guarenteed it has no commas or periods.

  22. jp says:

    How good of a fighter is this kid? Is he enforcer material, or just a fairly tough guy who will drop the gloves from time to time? This obviously has little bearing on how well he can play hockey, but if he has the fighting skill and demeanor to be an effective NHL enforcer, as well as potentially being able to keep up playing hockey, does that not improve our outlook on him a bit? To this point I’ve been thinking of him as an energy line player rather than an “enforcer with skill”, but maybe the latter is more appropriate.

    Based on hockey playing ability Moroz likely projects as a 4th (or possibly 3rd) line NHLer if he continues to develop. The Oilers spent a 3rd round pick on Cam Abney (pure enforcer), currently employ Darcy Hordichuk (mediocre enforcer and bad hockey player) and played Zach Stortini for years (ditto). IF Moroz can hit, get in peoples faces, stick up for his teammates AND deserves to play hockey for 10 min a night, that’s a pretty valuable player. Especially so considering the Oilers look like they’re going to employ a player or two in that role regardless of the hockey playing part.

    Could Ben Eager be a reasonable comp in terms of skill? Who here wouldn’t be a fan of Eager if he actually hit consistently and stuck up for his teammates? I know I would be. Moroz’s scoring numbers certainly project pretty similarly, and Eager was a 1st round pick. Everyone would be VERY happy with Eagers hockey playing ability if he was doing the other things we expected of him. He isn’t, so we aren’t, but he can take and make a pass in a limited role.

    Not that Lucic was ever a reasonable comp, but maybe Darren McCarty or someone like that would be a better Moroz comp. Those who’ve seen Moroz play more could comment to this though, maybe I’m way off track.

  23. spoiler says:

    jp:
    How good of a fighter is this kid? Is he enforcer material, or just a fairly tough guy who will drop the gloves from time to time? This obviously has little bearing on how well he can play hockey, but if he has the fighting skill and demeanor to be an effective NHL enforcer, as well as potentially being able to keep up playing hockey, does that not improve our outlook on him a bit? To this point I’ve been thinking of him as an energy line player rather than an “enforcer with skill”, but maybe the latter is more appropriate.

    Based on hockey playing ability Moroz likely projects as a 4th (or possibly 3rd) line NHLer if he continues to develop. The Oilers spent a 3rd round pick on Cam Abney (pure enforcer), currently employ Darcy Hordichuk (mediocre enforcer and bad hockey player) and played Zach Stortini for years (ditto). IF Moroz can hit, get in peoples faces, stick up for his teammates AND deserves to play hockey for 10 min a night, that’s a pretty valuable player. Especially so considering the Oilers look like they’re going to employ a player or two in that role regardless of the hockey playing part.

    Could Ben Eager be a reasonable comp in terms of skill? Who here wouldn’t be a fan of Eager if he actually hit consistently and stuck up for his teammates? I know I would be. Moroz’s scoring numbers certainly project pretty similarly, and Eager was a 1st round pick. Everyone would be VERY happy with Eagers hockey playing ability if he was doing the other things we expected of him. He isn’t, so we aren’t, but he can take and make a pass in a limited role.

    Not that Lucic was ever a reasonable comp, but maybe Darren McCarty or someone like that would be a better Moroz comp. Those who’ve seen Moroz play more could comment to this though, maybe I’m way off track.

    In my feeble mind, the Oilers decided to take a runner at an NHL calibre power forward. They made 3 bets on this outcome: Moroz, Khaira, and Zharkov, taking each one where they could be guaranteed to get them. I think if they were sure they could get Moroz later on, they would have taken him there. And I think out of everyone, they were hoping for Samuelsson.

    The hope is one of these three guys will turn into a Hartikainen type with better skating. And maybe they get lucky and one of them develops into a top 6 scorer/playmaker with size and the attitude to use it. Much the same way as we talk about defensive prospects in threes.

  24. RexLibris says:

    jonrmcleod,

    Or is it the other way around?! (insert Twilight Zone music here)

    Frk is still a pretty talented kid. Jurco had lost of questions surrounding him when he was drafted, today that looks like a pretty good deal for Detroit. Time will tell, but I’d rather be overstocked with talent and looking to buy toughness than the other way around.

  25. Mr DeBakey says:

    there was a young woman who would stand outside Edmonton Centre (with an older gentleman lurking) and in a monotone voice talk about “the end” and “your sins.”

    One day while waiting for a walk light, she informed me that “earrings on men are an abomination”

  26. Lois Lowe says:

    I don’t think the Oilers were trying to get Lucic with the Moroz pick. I think they were aiming for a Chris Neil type of player.

  27. DeadmanWaking says:

    VOR: There is research that shows that at least 5 of the combine tests are predictive of career potential and those seem to be the ones that sway the Oilers.

    Interesting take. This is exactly what Kahneman recommends in Thinking Fast and Slow. His studies suggest you can take any half dozen indicators known to correlate with success, normalize them to a comparable scale, then combine with uniform weights to get a predictor that performs as well in practice as those produced by the Nimbus Regression 2000 with optimal weighting factors tuned to historical data. (Absolutely nothing outperforms the Nimbus 2000 when riding your broom backwards.) Humans tend to go to the combine, observe the VO2 max results dominate prospect rankings, then add a generous helping of “saw it good” to the VO2 max model coefficient. The uniform weights he recommends avoids this mistake.

    I wonder about how this player type interacts with pipeline management. A speedy, burly guy who skates north/south with a taste for smash-mouth is a pretty easy guy to call upon as an emergency replacement. I have a feeling he doesn’t burn 166 NHL games GP (JFJ’s sunk-cost to date) to find out whether you’ve got something or not. What are the risks a guy like this turns into a tweener?

    I think many of the guys available at this bracket with higher upside consume larger launch windows within the development pipeline. After 120 GP on the second line, you’re left muttering “so close, so close, and yet so far dear cigar”.

    Perhaps not all upside is created equal. Is that worth taking into consideration, or not?

  28. DeadmanWaking says:

    Another time I might do a bit on Prospect Theory, which is basically how people feel about risk profiles. The small sure thing, or a sliver of the big pot? Is it framed as gain or loss?

    Here’s a short version. In sports you have to have some risk appetite if you wish to win the main prize. Too much volatility can drive your procurement pipeline in bouts of feast and famine (the other GMs afflicted with less volatility and pressure to act ensure you end up selling low and buying high to smooth things out). What’s the right kind of volatility? Should you swing for the fences in the 2nd round?

    I just picked Perry and Getzlaf as my flavour-of-the-moment volatility poster children. Here’s their pts per season, last four seasons:

    Getzlaf: 91-69-76-57 (high-low=34)
    Perry: 72-76-98-60 (high-low=38)

    35 pts per season is the difference between a 2nd round pick busting out (15 pts per season) and one who is making the grade as an impact player (50 pts per season).

    Your established elite prospects convey as much volatility as the full-spectrum prognosis for lesser picks. Gretzky’s good year (any MVP season) – Gretzky bad year (no MVP votes) = dinger in the 2nd round – facepalm in training.

    Second round picks might be the part of the batting order where you least wish to double down and swing for the fences.

    By the fourth round, a player 100% certain to achieve exactly his perceived value is a career AHLer. You have to swing or you’ve got nothing.

    I think we make a mistake when we presume that guys certain to succeed (Hall, Eberle, Nugent. Yak) are low in volatility because their bust-out risk is negligible. If those guys all hit the top of their brackets, we’re loaded for bear. If those guys settle at the low ends of their brackets, not even a ball over the fence in the 2nd round will fix it.

    In some sense, we’re already pot committed to volatility in hand.

    (My long – my short = anyone else’s diatribe.)

  29. gcw_rocks says:

    Shocked and surprised (and not in a good way) that Moron, I mean Moroz, ranks ahead of Reider, who has Mike Richards size, can score and can kill penalties. I thought a “wide range of skills” took priority?

    Clearly you have been hanging with the Oilers brass, valuing size over skill!

    (and I acknowedge Reider is not having as good a year as last season, but its still a better season than Moroz, and whe put together with last season, paints a much better picture)

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