The three major junior leagues have just completed their seasons, and for Oiler fans it’s a chance to look at progress. For many of the CHL players under the Oiler umbrella the 13-14 campaign has been a success. For Greg Chase, it’s been a revelation.
**NOTE: THERE ARE TWO WHL GAMES GOING THIS AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING. I WILL UPDATE STATS WHEN GAMES ARE COMPLETED. MOROZ, BETKER AND KHAIRA NUMBERS SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
BOXCAR NUMBERS, 13-14 PROSPECTS IN THE CHL
- Greg Chase (18) 70, 35-50-85
- Mitchell Moroz (19) 70, 35-28-63
- Jackson Houck (18) 69, 34-27-61
- Darnell Nurse (18) 64, 13-37-50
- Jujhar Khaira (19) 59, 16-28-44
- Kyle Platzer (18) 66, 22-14-36
- Marc-Olivier Roy (19) 39, 14-21-35
- Ben Betker (18) 68, 7-14-21
It’s always nice to take a moment at the end of a long season to look at these players. Three men scored more than 30 goals, that’s an outstanding total in any league. It doesn’t confirm they’ll be top 6F in the NHL, but does suggest that there may be enough there for the trio to develop into NHL role players. The leaders in assists (Chase and Nurse) are probably the best bets for NHL careers here, although Moroz is going to get some long looks from this organization.
The club has signed Jujhar Khaira, Darnell Nurse and Mitchell Moroz, and I think we could see Marc-Olivier Roy signed this summer (and he may turn pro). Roy is the disappointment in the group (due to injury), and Platzer is just around .500 point-per-game and that’s not going to get it done. The verbal on Betker has been positive and Houck scored 34—hard to bitch about that total.
VOLLMAN’S NHL EQUVIALENCIES
Beginning this year, I’m switching over to Rob Vollman’s NHL equivalencies. No disrespect to Gabriel Desjardins, but Rob’s information is more recent and there are subtle but important differences. I’ve gone back and forth over these last months, but Desjardins’ NHLE is famous and available everywhere. The Vollman is similar and not yet widely reported.
- The NHL equivalency likes Greg Chase plenty. His final WHL season will be an interesting follow, because he still isn’t getting a major power-play push. Some are comparing his rise to Brodziak, but NHL teams didn’t draft him at 17. Chase’s 18-year old season is very close to Brodziak at 19. He might be that very unusual player who arrives in the NHL as a regular via the 7th round (like Brodziak), but he’s tracking a higher trajectory at this time.
- The other player of great interest is Darnell Nurse. His NHLE one year ago (82, 4-11-15) was good, and the slight uptick (helped by the PP) confirms he’ll likely be a two-way type should he play in the NHL. Oiler fans shouldn’t expect 40 points from Nurse, but 20-25 points a season seems reasonable. We know Nurse’s value has a lot of defensive elements, so this kind of production added to the defense will have a great deal of value. If he ends up being Jason Smith, would Oiler fans be happy with the player? That’s where he’s heading in my opinion.
- Mitchell Moroz had a very good season, and there were times during the year where we might have been able to stretch a little and compare him to guys like Blake Comeau and Shawn Matthias. He fell below those numbers, and at this point I believe we’re looking at a bottom 6 player. He’s clear of Gazdic by some measure, and perhaps is more comparable to J-F Jacques at this point. Stay away from back injuries, Mitch! I do want to mention that Moroz (to my eye) can take and make a pass, and that should have some real value in pro. It’s also true, however, that checking wingers like Ethan Moreau were dominant offensive juniors at 19 years old.
- Jackson Houck is actually a more promising version of Moroz, despite a lesser pedigree. If we refer back to that ON article on Moroz, Houck (in season 1 after draft) lands between Milan Lucic and Colton Gillies. I am NOT saying he’s Lucic! However, Houck is a very interesting prospect, perhaps underrated due to a slow start and being a lesser draft pick. A must follow next year.
- Marco Roy had a disappointing year, owing mostly to injury. He is among the few junior forwards who were taken in the second round and boasted a point-per-game or more in their draft year. That’s a rare thing, in fact only 15 forwards selected in the second round between 2009 and 2014 (five seasons) had a point per game total at 1/1 or above. Roy didn’t reach that level this season (but was close), so we’ll be looking for marked improvement should he remain in junior this year. Interesting side note: the man drafted right after Roy (William Carrier), had almost the identical falloff season over season. Something in the air this season in the QMJHL? Probably just luck and injury, but it’s a concern for Roy moving forward.
- Ben Betker is never going to shine in this kind of view, but the scouting reports on him have been very good this season. Terrific size, good speed and he’s a better offensive player than first thought. A nice prospect.
- I think it’s fair to suggest that Platzer and Khaira have some work to do as prospects based on their projected roles in pro hockey.
Most of these kids will spend the next few weeks in the playoffs, so we’ll continue to monitor progress.