#11 PROSPECT: MITCHELL MOROZ

For two seasons (17 and 18), Mitchell Moroz was part of a shutdown line, a designated checking line, and his offense sputtered. Eyewitnesses told us as much, but we were slow to believe. Finally, at 19, Moroz would get a chance to play on a skill line. Thoughts of a 30-goal power forward were impossible to resist. How’s that working so far?

 PREVIOUSLY NUMBER ELEVEN ON THE LIST

  • December 2004: L Tony Salmelainen (70)
  • December 2005: D Bryan Young (17)
  • December 2006: G Jeff Deslauriers (62)
  • December 2007: D Theo Peckham (160)
  • December 2008: D Taylor Chorney (61)
  • December 2009: D Johan Motin (1)
  • December 2010: G Devan Dubnyk (158)
  • December 2011: D Colten Teubert (24)
  • December 2012: C Anton Lander (68)

There are a couple of players of note here, Dubnyk who we’ve discussed in this series and Peckham who is struggling to get back but looked like he might be a player for awhile there. Lander could still end up being something, but there are no 500 game players here unless Dubnyk hangs around forever.

 WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY

moroz capture

  • 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.

POINTS BY DISCIPLINE, MITCHELL MOROZ

PLAYER EV PP PK TOTAL
MOROZ 2011-12 WHL 66, 11-8-19 .288 66, 5-1-6 .091 66, 0-0-0 66, 16-9-25 .379
MOROZ 2012-13 WHL 69, 10-17-27 .391 69, 3-4-7 .101 66, 0-0-0 69, 13-21-34 .493
MOROZ 2013-14 WHL 24, 14-7-21 .875 24, 2-1-3 .125 24, 0-0-0 24, 16-8-24 1.000

In his first two seasons, Moroz played more of a shutdown role with Travis Ewanyk, it was a de facto checking line that did the dirty work and allowed the high end skill forwards to score against lesser competition. That sort of thing is unusual, and honestly it’s kind of difficult (without knowing time-on-ice and counting opponents) to know offensive ability with any degree of accuracy. The only thing we knew was this: the Oil Kings had better offensive options, and Moroz wasn’t scoring enough to cover the second round bet.

That’s why the 19-year old season is so interesting. Mitchel Moroz is running in place as a power play forward, and he doesn’t penalty kill, but at even strength he’s on pace for 42 goals. Incredible.

PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING

  • Summer 2012: 17
  • Winter 2012: 12
  • Summer 2013: 14
  • Winter 2013: 11

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THIS SEASON

  • moroz6Moroz: “We’ll see what happens. I wrote on my goal sheet at the start of the year that I wanted 30 plus, so we’ll see. I’m going to just keep shooting the puck, good things happen when you do that.  I said 20 plus assists, just because I’m usually not the guy to pull up and make a play but he’s going to burry when I give him the puck, but the same with [Reid] Petryk and Sammy [Henrik Samuelsson] when I play with those guys. They’re all gifted offensively so the points will come. I know that it has been a point of mine not to be just focussed on that though, I’ve still got to play a rounded game because at the next level it’s going to be called from me to play a rounded game.”
  • Ryan Batty, Copper and Blue: It’s great that Moroz is getting a chance to play with some very skilled players and that he is making the most of that chance but I very much doubt that he’s the one tilting the ice during his shifts. I’ve seen these three guys play a lot of hockey and Moroz is a couple giant steps behind Samuelsson and Lazar when it comes to playing the game. So no, I don’t think we’ve been completely wrong about Moroz all along. It’s a great start but until I see some more evidence I’m going to say it’s just a hot streak. Good for him though, if he keeps this up he’s going to guarantee himself a pro contract.
  • Moroz has been named to the Subway Series roster.

ETA MOROZ

The progress this season for Moroz is encouraging, and I think it reflects how well he can play with more skilled players. It’s unlikely he’ll be playing with top end players next season in the AHL, and a third or fourth line role similar to Travis Ewanyk’s experience next season seems likely. The Oilers must be pleased with his progress this season, and he’s very likely to secure a pro contract sometime in the next few months.

His NHLE for this season is 82, 16-9-25. That should be considered the extreme outer marker offensively. However, the absolutely noxious putdowns of Moroz in his draft season+ have been answered with a nice ‘f-you’ start from this player.

I for one am extremely pleased by this result.

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35 Responses to "#11 PROSPECT: MITCHELL MOROZ"

  1. Well Oiled and Enthusiastic says:

    The blogger universe was very harsh on this Moroz pick when made, but the arrows seem pretty good. To put a round about perspective on it, have Gazdic give him his jersey and stall and the Oilers are upgraded – like right now. Seriously. Says a lot about the caliber of player we are suiting up there at the pro level doesn’t it?

  2. maxwell_mischief says:

    You know, watching a couple Oil Kings games the last couple years moroz has looked like he’ll be a player. There is something about how he carries himself and how he gets around the ice that makes him a presence (not just his size). He’s a heavy dude too, you can tell and I don’t think that it’s out of the question that as this guy develops he’d be able to play with say Nuge and Ebs, and be a presence and chip in offensively. If not a 3/4 line guy for sure. I like his chances.

  3. Lowetide says:

    Well Oiled and Enthusiastic:
    The blogger universe was very harsh on this Moroz pick when made, but the arrows seem pretty good. To put a round about perspective on it, have Gazdic give him his jersey and stall and the Oilers are upgraded – like right now. Seriously. Says a lot about the caliber of player we are suiting up there at the pro level doesn’t it?

    I agree, there were some terrible things said. The initial response was quite civil on this blog, we had a fairly adult conversation.

    http://lowetide.ca/blog/2012/06/harvest-moon-5.html/comment-page-1

  4. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    One of the more interesting things I’ve been considering since Apr. 15th is the difference in minor decisions we can game out between Tambo and MacT.

    If MacT were in charge I don’t think Moroz is picked, Ewanyk is given a contract, Rieder is traded.

    But, he’s here and I’m cheering like hell for him. I hope he blossoms in the AHL for 2 years and arrives ready to kill penalties, hold his head above water and score a few.

    I have to assume MacT gives him a contract. He’s a much better bet at this point than he was in his draft year at 31st OV, or Ewanyk last year, or Kessy last year.

  5. justDOit says:

    I don’t get the opportunity to watch the WHL much – exactly how feared of an enforcer is he in the league?

  6. Lowetide says:

    justDOit:
    I don’t get the opportunity to watch the WHL much – exactly how feared of an enforcer is he in the league?

    Moroz is a tough player, he’s had some legendary tilts. The WHL has some monsters and he’s lost his share too, but I’d say Moroz has had at least a half dozen noteworthy fights. Most recently against a player from (iirc) Prince Albert who hit Lazar very late.

    Moroz went to Lazar’s aid and got 27 minutes in pims.

  7. nelson88 says:

    It is unfortunate that he has the burden of being both a “face puncher” and a reach pick (which he was) as the kid seems to be a pretty good hockey player and team mate. He also (knock on wood) seems to be a real enforcer who can do the job without getting hurt. Always makes me cringe when I see video of someone like Ben Betker or Alex Plante fighting because they are big guys and feel they need to stand up for their smaller team mates. They aren’t particularly good at fighting and get hurt as they move up the ladder and view that as a way to make the NHL. Kessey is another one who is legitimately tough although not nearly as skilled as Moroz.

    I would not be shocked to see Moroz as a better skating version of Troy Brouwer who; if memory serves, passed through his first draft eligibility and put up similar numbers at the same age. Let’s hope the Oilers took note of the development path.

  8. justDOit says:

    Lowetide,

    Yikes! 27 minutes. I see he’s listed at 6’2″, 208 lbs, so he’s not in the Smac-sized class, but that’s pretty beefy for a young man. Imagine when he gets his ‘old man’ strength!

    On pace for 42 goals at evens is a nice trend.

  9. David says:

    justDOit:
    I don’t get the opportunity to watch the WHL much – exactly how feared of an enforcer is he in the league?

    Ewanyk and Moroz last year could and would take on entire lines last year. (Moroz was just 18) he has never backed down from anyone and he will never look the other way if some punk runs a teammate. Even if he has to chase them around the ice, which he has done. He doesn’t tolerate any weasels.

  10. justDOit says:

    David,

    So he’s a goal-puncher!

  11. David says:

    Up until this year I never believed that Moroz could make it in the bigs but I remember noticing something of interest watching Oil king games. The third line of Ewanyk, Moroz, and Kulda, or whoever rode with them would play against the Shinkarruks and Reinharts, and Rasks and Valks etc of the league, and not only did they routinely shut down the top lines of other teams but I noticed that the Kings line often had the puck and were pressing in the Offensive zone.

    The other thing I’ve seen is that Moroz doesn’t just score chippy Ryan Jones goals but has a decent set of soft hands. He has scored some beauty goals deking a goalie and shelving it.

    Those were things I saw previous to this season. This season of his has me sipping the kool-aid. He’s going to make it!

  12. justDOit says:

    Lowetide: Moroz is a tough player, he’s had some legendary tilts. The WHL has some monsters and he’s lost his share too, but I’d say Moroz has had at least a half dozen noteworthy fights. Most recently against a player from (iirc) Prince Albert who hit Lazar very late.

    Moroz went to Lazar’s aid and got 27 minutes in pims.

    I found that play under Moroz’ fight card on hockeyfights, and yeah. Lazar dumps Jayden Hart on the faceoff, and gives him a little cross check when he’s down, then goes to the net and scores. Hart gets up and makes a bee-line for Lazar and gives him a cross check to the head/face/upper body region. Moroz steps in, but the refs break that one up fairly quickly.

    Then in a later game against PA, Hart hits someone from behind, into the glass, and Moroz makes him pay, dearly. Two punches and that’s it.

    Then I search for Moroz goals on youtube, and only get fights in the results list. But of note, there is a big guy on Vancouver – Geertsen, and Moroz matched up nicely, considering it looked like he gave up a couple of inches to him. Whatever Moroz did to provoke that fight, he must have crossed the Mason Geertsen line!

  13. spoiler says:

    Well Oiled and Enthusiastic: The blogger universe was very harsh on this Moroz pick when made, but the arrows seem pretty good. To put a round about perspective on it, have Gazdic give him his jersey and stall and the Oilers are upgraded – like right now. Seriously. Says a lot about the caliber of player we are suiting up there at the pro level doesn’t it?

    I mustn’t be part of the universe, lol. But you’re right, there weren’t many others defending the pick.

    His career is actually a little reminiscent of the Great White Sammy’s, who racked up a lot of WHL points before being assigned to patrolling Gretzky. if the Oil can get a player like Semenko, or one of the 70s Philly Phighters, who could also score some goals, this pick will be a real win.

    Personally, I would have Chase and Moroz in the order presented here, but both ahead of Khaira sheerly on skating (and Khaira really excited in Penticton). And Arco ahead of all three.

  14. DBO says:

    Moroz seems to be very comparable to Gazdic (who had 30 pts his 19 yr old junior season) and is a face puncher with some skill. No idea what road Moroz will take, but a big scrapper who can score and who may be able to play with skill is a huge thing for this team. What is great is seeing Pitlick, Khaira, Moroz, Chase come up and look like potential NHLers who have grit,m size and some skill. If they can keep the top kids happy, adding a Perron, maybe a Harski, and suddenly we are a heavy gritty and mean team with high end skill.

  15. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    DBO: Moroz seems to be very comparable to Gazdic (who had 30 pts his 19 yr old junior season) and is a face puncher with some skill.

    Gazdic, Draft year +2: 63, 20-10-30 (.476 PPG)
    Moroz, Draft Year +2: 24, 16-8-24 (1.00 PPG)

    Moroz is trending a hell of a lot better than Gazdic so far. That said, we need to be super cautious about where this guy ends up.

  16. icecastles says:

    Clowns.

    (sorry – that just seemed so much easier than reading everyone’s posts, thinking about it, and formulating a reasoned and thoughtful response.)

  17. jp says:

    Has Dubnyk been in every slot on the list? I know that’s not possible, but it seems like he’s an example of success just about every day lately.

  18. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    This doesn’t looks good:

    http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2013/11/26/rogersnhl_deal_where_will_the_personalities_wind_up.html

    We could be seeing a lot more Cox, Millard, Kyper, McGown and MacLean…. gross.

  19. justDOit says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    This doesn’t looks good:

    http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2013/11/26/rogersnhl_deal_where_will_the_personalities_wind_up.html

    We could be seeing a lot more Cox, Millard, Kyper, McGown and MacLean…. gross.

    The End Times, my friend – End Times.

    Fortunately for cable cutters like me, I’ll be able to watch the visitor feeds on hockeystreams. Until Rogers buys Shaw, and blocks those sites.

  20. justDOit says:

    Woodguy:
    So this is a fun little widget:

    The player names are listed alphabetically by first name. That’s pretty unfortunate. On the bright side, I did not know there were that many Aarons in the league.

    Fourteen Aarons agree: Don’t sort things by first name!

  21. RexLibris says:

    justDOit:
    I don’t get the opportunity to watch the WHL much – exactly how feared of an enforcer is he in the league?

    And perhaps further to LT’s response earlier, in the WHL ranks I would put Moroz in that Brandon Prust category of pugilist – eager, able, dangerous if not respected, and capable of playing a regular shift.

    His point production this year though is very un-Prust-like, and I’m not sure if it translates to the AHL/NHL, but not every NHLE is symmetrical in development. I love that he is scoring and finding success. While i still believe that Frk would have been the wiser choice, I will never cheer against one of our prospects.

  22. RexLibris says:

    justDOit: I found that play under Moroz’ fight card on hockeyfights, and yeah. Lazar dumps Jayden Hart on the faceoff, and gives him a little cross check when he’s down, then goes to the net and scores. Hart gets up and makes a bee-line for Lazar and gives him a cross check to the head/face/upper body region. Moroz steps in, but the refs break that one up fairly quickly.

    Then in a later game against PA, Hart hits someone from behind, into the glass, and Moroz makes him pay, dearly. Two punches and that’s it.

    Then I search for Moroz goals on youtube, and only get fights in the results list. But of note, there is a big guy on Vancouver – Geertsen, and Moroz matched up nicely, considering it looked like he gave up a couple of inches to him. Whatever Moroz did to provoke that fight, he must have crossed the Mason Geertsen line!

    The Oil Kings traded Geertsen for David Musil last season, so he and Moroz used to be teammates. Geertsen and Musil are somewhat comparable players in terms of style, and Moroz did well in that one but if he doesn’t change his fighting style some ape in the AHL or ECHL is going to end his career before it begins. He needs to learn he can’t simply stand and trade shots with guys at the pro level.

  23. spoiler says:

    RexLibris: And perhaps further to LT’s response earlier, in the WHL ranks I would put Moroz in that Brandon Prust category of pugilist – eager, able, dangerous if not respected, and capable of playing a regular shift.

    I think this is a very good middle of the road comp for Moroz. I think he can turn out better, and I think he can be worse, but Brandon Prust looks like the fat part of the bell curve to me.

  24. Melman says:

    Has there been any news on Pitlick’s injury?

  25. Lois Lowe says:

    This year is a small sample size when Moroz is a man among boys. I don’t buy the progression for a second.

  26. Lowetide says:

    Melman:
    Has there been any news on Pitlick’s injury?

    None.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Lois Lowe:
    This year is a small sample size when Moroz is a man among boys. I don’t buy the progression for a second.

    Well, the progression is one thing feeding the distrust, and of course the other is the step up in quality of linemates. The Batty quote above isn’t pulled out of thin air, it’s a fact.

    My own feeling is we’re looking at something beyond Dan Lacouture and Brad Winchester. That’s why he’s #11.

  28. Woodguy says:

    In one of the links LT posted above, I had Bickell (drafted 41st in 2004 with .610pts/gm) as a comp for Moroz.

    Draft +2

    Moroz 24gp 16g 8a 24pts 72pims 1pt/gm 3pim/gm

    Bickell 41gp 28g 22a 50pts 41pims 1.21pts/gm 1pim/gm

    Comp holding up ok, but Moroz falling off the offensive pace but ramping up the face punching pace.

  29. bookje says:

    I have new worries about Eakins, a guy who let’s ‘winning streaks’ affect lineup decisions and shaving routines does not seem rational.

  30. russ99 says:

    I know this will probably infuriate some Moroz fans, but I have to wonder – with the slightly more than expected bump in stats in his third WHL year, his trade value is at an all time high, and he could crash back down to earth playing bigger, tougher, better and older players in the AHL next season.

    I wonder what we could get for him.

  31. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    russ99:
    I know this will probably infuriate some Moroz fans, but I have to wonder – with the slightly more than expected bump in stats in his third WHL year, his trade value is at an all time high, and he could crash back down to earth playing bigger, tougher, better and older players in the AHL next season.

    I wonder what we could get for him.

    Not a lot is my guess. probably a prospect swap a la the rieder-kessy trade.

  32. Lowetide says:

    russ99:
    I know this will probably infuriate some Moroz fans, but I have to wonder – with the slightly more than expected bump in stats in his third WHL year, his trade value is at an all time high, and he could crash back down to earth playing bigger, tougher, better and older players in the AHL next season.

    I wonder what we could get for him.

    I don’t think his value in trade is high right now, because his established level of ability is the two previous seasons. Teams will want to see where he lands as a pro.

  33. B S says:

    On topic, When the Moroz pic was made I was happy the Oilers got him, but like most others I felt there were better players on the board. I’m probably one of the few not surprised at all by his offensive output. The kid has a decent set of hands, and good hand eye coordination. He won’t be the next Lindros, and he probably isn’t pushing the river for his line, but he does create room for his linemates, and scores on the opportunities that are given to him. That’s exactly what our top 6 needs. He’s not Gazdic either (though Gazdic has been an effective 4th liner so far), he’s a meaner, nastier version of what we’re all hoping Joensuu will be.

    I hope like hell when he makes the pros they make it clear to him that he’s not a facepuncher. When he’s 25, heavier and more experienced, then he can start standing up to the men, until then his job should be to focus on scoring, shutting down top players, and hitting.

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