NO. 18 PROSPECT (winter 2014): MITCHELL MOROZ

Mitch Moroz is a very famous prospect among Oilers fans for a couple of reasons. He was selected early in the second round of the 2012 draft when Bob McKenzie ranked him No. 56 and many fans never forgave team or player for the perceived sin. I’ve argued for two and-a-half years that blaming the player is ridiculous but the slings and arrows continue. The other reason he’s famous? Moroz was part of one of Edmonton’s rare championships in hockey this century, a breathless run to the Memorial Cup in 2014 spring. What do those two things tell us about Moroz the player? Not one damn thing, actually.

PREVIOUSLY NUMBER EIGHTEEN OVERALL

  • December 2004: L Jani Rita (36)
  • December 2005: G Jeff Deslauriers (62)
  • December 2006: D Mathieu Roy (66)
  • December 2007: C Chris VandeVelde (69)
  • December 2008: L Teemu Hartikainen (52)
  • December 2009: R Colin McDonald (124)
  • December 2010: D Brandon Davidson (4)
  • December 2011: L Phil Cornet (2)
  • December 2012: D Taylor Fedun (4)
  • December 2013: L Luke Gazdic (78)

I swear that a lot of thought goes into these lists but the hockey Gods mock me by choosing No. 18 overall to present a list of men who managed to play in at least one NHL game. These are all role players (Rita aside) but credit where due they found a way. Mathieu Roy was a personal favorite, I’ve never seen a hockey player more hellbent on getting himself hurt—and I saw Marc Pouliot!

moroz capture

 WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY

  • 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.

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 70, 26-24-50 .714 70, 9-4-13 .186 70,0-0-0 70, 35-28-63 .900
MOROZ 2014-15 AHL 24, 0-2-2 .083 24, 0-0-0 .000 24, 0-0-0 24, 0-2-2 .083

Moroz dominated junior at 19 but as we say those kids should do exactly that against younger opposition. The early struggles of Moroz in the AHL are somewhat predictable (he’s not going to get a push on a skill line because he isn’t the best option) and his TOI estimates (below) suggest he’s getting little ice time so far. It is important to keep in mind that successful players find a way to move up the depth chart in year one. Luke Gazdic went 2-0-2 in his first 24 games, Curtis Hamilton went 2-5-7 in his first 24. If Mitch Moroz is going to play a regular shift with skilled men, he needs to show some offensive ability this season. It’s early but the TOI is a concern.

PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING

  • Summer 2012: 17
  • Winter 2012: 12
  • Summer 2013: 14
  • Winter 2013: 11
  • Summer 2014: 15
  • Winter 2014: 18

The Oilers spent a very valuable pick on Moroz and he developed well during his junior career. We’re at Christmas of his first pro season and by Eric Rodgers’ estimate the young man has played less than 3 AHL hours so far this season. You can’t develop players that way but you can send them to the ECHL for big minutes. If the Barons can’t find a way to get Moroz ice time, it’s the best thing for the young man. If the Oilers aren’t offering, he should ask for the demotion. Career progress won’t come via riding the bench.

moroz ferguson 14152

14-15

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THIS SEASON

  • Moroz on his health, late summer: “It might have been three or four weeks ago if you had asked me that but I’ve come such a long way that I’m not thinking about those things on the ice anymore. It will be nice just to go in and play and be able to play my game right away. Hopefully I will be able to bang some bodies and create some stuff out there.” Source
  • Todd Nelson on Moroz: “First year is exploration in the American Hockey League. Maybe that’s hard for people to understand who don’t want a lot of American League games, but it’s a wake-up call for a lot of players.” Source
  • Tend The Farm: Eric Rodgers estimates TOI for Moroz through 14 games at 6:44 per night.

THE FUTURE

The Oilers are a strange organization in development (we know this) but it seems as though the scouts, minor league coaches and management aren’t thinking along the same lines. If they brought the ECHL into the conversation—maybe 20 games on the top line in Bakersfield and then a 10 game stint with regular shifts in the AHL—could it help a player like Mitch Moroz? I think it’s worth a try. As it is, if Rodgers’ TOI estimates are true, Edmonton is wasting a development season on a second-round pick.

moroz mcritchie

2012 NHL DRAFT

  • Nail Yakupov, No. 1 overall. Young Russian winger has been a disappointment so far in his career, but possesses tremendous talent and is making progress. He’s one of the most naturally talented players in the organization. Graduated to the NHL.
  • Mitch Moroz, No. 32 overall. Big winger with some skill just turned pro. Not playing a lot so far.  No. 18 overall prospect.
  • Jujhar Khaira, No. 63 overall. If he can improve his speed, he’ll have a career. If he can improve his offense, he’ll have a long one. No. 7 overall prospect.
  • Daniil Zharkov, No. 91 overall. Big Russian winger has been lost in the hinterlands back home. Outside the Top 20.
  • Erik Gustafsson, No. 93 overall. Productive defender in Europe, Oilers passed on opportunity to sign him. No longer in the organization.
  • Joey Laleggia, No. 123 overall. Undersized but splendid puck-moving defender. No. 14 overall prospect.
  • John McCarron, No. 153 overall. Big winger playing his final college season. Candidate for winter 20.

The 2012 draft (like the 2014 edition) has some unusual arrows. ONE player Edmonton drafted in 2012 has enjoyed what we might call typical progress. Nail Yakupov’s rookie year was his best, Moroz was in a shutdown role for a year after draft and then blossomed in his final junior season before playing a part-time role in OKC. Jujhar Khaira has size and speed but has been offensively challenged since draft day. Daniil Zharkov may or may not exist in real life, Erik Gustafsson is no longer part of the organization and John McCarron has been on the outskirts of the prospect list since 2012 (we have no idea if he’s going to sign).

Joey Laleggia stands alone as the one member of the 2012 draft who has progressed in a normal fashion.

Mitchell Moroz has power, speed and size but the question is (and has been) his ability to play with skill. The Oilers (so far) have chosen to slow play his development, one suspects (partly) because of their disregard for the value of pro at-bats. There may be a hesitation on the part of the player to go down to Bakersfield but that’s one way to improve. Moroz began this season a little behind and is now playing sparingly and it’s completely possible he’ll spend the season in this part-time role. It is a very poor way to develop a player, especially with 15 minutes a night just waiting for him in Bakersfield. Once it is established the AHL coach will not play the winger in a feature role, the organization owes it to themselves and the player to get him to a place he can succeed.

This is an important season for Mitchell Moroz. I’m not sure the Edmonton Oilers are treating it that way.

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24 Responses to "NO. 18 PROSPECT (winter 2014): MITCHELL MOROZ"

  1. nafnikufesin says:

    Hockey championships in Edmonton are not rare at all. The Golden Bears are almost always in contention. Excellent hockey, always competitive, and priced well for the whole family to enjoy. They don’t get nearly close enough to the press they deserve in this town.

  2. sliderule says:

    The oiler scouting staff and management see no value in these high second round picks as they have traded away the last two.
    It’s easy to see why as they selected Pitlick ,Musil and Moroz in succession and look how that is going..
    Moroz looks like he will be the worst of the bunch.
    Sad for him and oiler fans.

  3. Ryan says:

    Moroz, Juju, and even Bogdan aren’t producing much offense at the aaa level. Has anyone ever posted 2 apples in 24 games in the AHL level (goalies, dman, and pugilists aside) and gone onto any noteable NHL career? That’s like Gazdic-level offense.

  4. Lowetide says:

    If the Oilers keep playing him in a depth role in the AHL, then no there’s no reason to think he’s going to have an NHL career. As for 2 points in his first 24 AHL games, it’s important to note (projected) TOI via Rodgers. This isn’t really a 24-game stretch, just isn’t. He scored in junior and may be able to in pro, but he needs to get the at-bats.

  5. Lowetide says:

    One thing that’s fun is to look back at the players we thought we be most valuable that day

    https://lowetide.ca/2012/06/23/2012-entry-draft-day-two-stu-and-the-scouts/

    And how they’re turning out

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/nhl2012e.html

    There aren’t many who are racing with the wind, reminding us it is still early days.

  6. fifthcartel says:

    Moroz’s junior numbers are concerning. Prospects who don’t score around ~1 ppg in junior at some point usually don’t go on to play on skill lines. So the upside to Moroz is probably a 3rd or 4th line option.

    I think if everything went right Moroz could be a Brandon Prust, who didn’t really score in junior either. But Prust scored 26 points in his first AHL season, and probably got a lot more ice time than Moroz is.

    I agree that if he’s not going to get some kind of push in the AHL, why not send him to Bakersfield for a couple weeks?

  7. Lowetide says:

    fifthcartel:
    Moroz’s junior numbers are concerning. Prospects who don’t score around ~1 ppg in junior at some point usually don’t go on to play on skill lines. So the upside to Moroz is probably a 3rd or 4th line option.

    I think if everything went right Moroz could be a Brandon Prust, who didn’t really score in junior either. But, Prust scored 26 points in his first AHL season, and probably got a lot more ice time than Moroz is.

    fifthcartel:
    Moroz’s junior numbers are concerning. Prospects who don’t score around ~1 ppg in junior at some point usually don’t go on to play on skill lines. So the upside to Moroz is probably a 3rd or 4th line option.

    I think if everything went right Moroz could be a Brandon Prust, who didn’t really score in junior either. But, Prust scored 26 points in his first AHL season, and probably got a lot more ice time than Moroz is.

    that’s absolutely the concern, time on ice. Moroz needs to find a way to get more at-bats.

  8. VOR says:

    Ryan,

    Pugilists count.

    They still tell the story of the most famous Salem Rebel whereever NHL GMs gather. As in I want one of those. I need one of those. As in please Santa I’ve been a very good boy. The player in question was as bad or worse than Moroz early in his AHL career. That is how he became a Salem Rebel in the first place. Yet every NHL GM would take a player just like him.

    The player was 0-0-0 with 13 penalty minutes after 8 games in the AHL (and a number of healthy scratches)when he was demoted to Salem of the EHL. There he found his scoring touch becoming a point a game player. The next year he started 20 AHL games without recording a point. But his team management told their AHL coach play the kid and low and behold he started to find his game. Not that he tore the AHL apart. Well he did but not in the way most of us think you need to in order to punch your ticket to the NHL.

    It took several more years but the kid finally made it to the NHL. Not only did he have a significant career but I would argue he changed hockey. That is because something very odd happened in Salem. Not a big man one night he dropped his gloves and went to the aid of a teammate. They say that night he gave up forty pounds and four inches. It didn’t matter. The kid made all his teammates into monsters because he had their backs like nobody in the history of the NHL. I know there isn’t an Oiler fan alive who wouldn’t welcome a player just like him with open arms. His name was Dave Schultz. Character matters. Heart matters.

    I am not comparing Mitch Moroz to Dave Schultz. Moroz is bigger and faster. On the other hand there are some similarities. On or off the ice without a letter on his chest every Philadelphia Flyer from the BroadStreet Bullies era will tell you Schultz was their heart and soul. Go and read some of the press around Moroz’s defence of Griffin Reinhardt at the Memorial Cup. Consider how Griffin was playing before Moroz came to his defence. Consider how he played afterwards. Then tell me there aren’t some possible parallels between Moroz and Schultz.

    Pugilists count. Ask every current Oiler if they’d find room on their team for The Hammer. I think we all know the answer is hell yes. Schultz could also really play hockey. So can Mitch Moroz. The Oilers or Moroz need to send him down to the ECHL.

  9. G Money says:

    VOR,

    Wouldn’t The Hammer be the exception that proves the rule?

  10. G Money says:

    Just checked in here and I’m thinking “why the heck is it so quiet in here?!!”

    Oh yeah – Xmas eve!!! The kids are watching “Santa Clause 2” and following Santa on the NORAD tracker. You’d think that would be a clue…

    Merry Xmas all!

  11. Ryan says:

    G Money:
    Just checked in here and I’m thinking “why the heck is it so quiet in here?!!”

    Oh yeah – Xmas eve!!!The kids are watching “Santa Clause 2″ and following Santa on the NORAD tracker.You’d think that would be a clue…

    Merry Xmas all!

    Merry Christmas!

    Maybe I can fuel some discussion with a comment that died on the old thread:

    I think when we have the benefit of a few more years, we’ll look back at the Mact years even less fondly than we’re doing already. Mact is like the anti-rumpelstiltskin…
    1. Devan Dubnyk. Already people are half-jokingly asking, “I wonder what we’d have to give up to pry Dubnyk out of Phoenix?” Hendricks has been better than expected but we have two more years on that 1.85 million pact for a forth liner. Dubnyk this season is better than either of our two goalers.
    Trade: our starting goaler for an expensive aging forth liner.
    2. Sam Gamgee. First, he paid in full on the Gagner contract then he traded Gagner for a buyout candidate after Gagner struggled last season post Kassian.
    A number six overall centre for a buyout candidate…
    3. Jeff Petry. Our best dman is as good as gone… The return is likely to be a draft pick and definitely not a first rounder…
    One of our only bonafide home-grown non-1st round draft pick traded for ?a third rounder and spare parts?
    4. Two third rounders and a fifth rounder for Scrivens and Fasth. 3 draft picks for two failed goalie bets.
    5. Barbashev and PRV for Perron. One of the few trades that Mact gets credit for… Having Perron this year and last on bottom feeding teams accomplished zero. If Perron is traded for a pick at next year’s deadline, this trade starts looking very bad very quickly.
    6. A 5th rounder (plus $9 million dollars) for one Nikita Nikitin. Ouch.
    Hindsight being better than hind banana…. If Mact had hired a veteran NHL coach who wasn’t too long in the tooth instead of Eakins… And found an actual NHL goaltender… Not Dominick Hasek, but someone with a proven track record…

  12. VOR says:

    Which rule would that be? If you are suggesting pugilists don’t matter I’d ask whether you think Squeaky Manson in his prime would solve many of the Oilers current problems? He and Bob Probert and Dale Hunter all in their prime and the current Oilers are contenders for the Stanley Cup. Oh let’s throw in that prick Chris Chelios and the terrifying Zdeno Chara. A lot of pugilists could play some hockey and were heart and soul guys. Tiger Williams and Marty McSorley for example. Some could truly play hockey. Hunter and Chelios and Manson for example. Only a few of the top pugilists were like Tim Hunter or Rob Ray, knuckle dragging pylons.

  13. VOR says:

    I am busy making wife saver for lunch for tomorrow. While writing about pugilists. The irony is not lost on me.

  14. VanOil says:

    Merry Christmas all.

    In early October when I hit my personal,Burn it to the Ground point, I put forward a game plan;

    POHO to resign, because he can’t be fired.

    Exhaustive 2 month search for new POHO.

    New POHO to be in place too evaluate and prevent the GM from doing something stupid at the deadline.

    Then POHO chooses his GM before the draft, that GM chooses his coach before the rookie camp. Or if it is Babcock do it all him self if he wants.

    The Oilers of course can’t even burn it to the ground right, they have removed to coach, will likely fire the GM later and will only shuffle around the POHO and POBO.

    I have a long list of things I would like from the Oilers for Xmas but will settle for 1 win against Calgary and a Petry contract Jan 1st. I am expecting coal.

    I hope Santa and the Oilers are better to all of us.

  15. TheOtherJohn says:

    A modern day Dave Schultz would not play in today’s NHL. You can either play hockey or you have no spot in today’s game. Gadzic is wasted ice time if the puck consistently comes from their zone to our zone and stays there. You can lament that fact if you want but you he game is not changing back.

    Moroz scored poorly at draft+1 and .8 ppg in draft +2 does not point to much offensive production in the year BEFORE he got to the AHL. Agree completely that he should get 20 TOI at Bakersfield to get confidence up. Moroz might develop into a player but he is not trending that way at this point. Out of our3 early 2nd rounders we have 1 4th line winger — Pitlick

    As comparator Toffoli scored 107 pts in 68 games in draft +1 in OHL and 51 pts in 58 games in
    the AHL in draft +2. Moroz is miles away from that

  16. PhrankLee says:

    Lowetide:
    One thing that’s fun is to look back at the players we thought we be most valuable that day

    https://lowetide.ca/2012/06/23/2012-entry-draft-day-two-stu-and-the-scouts/

    And how they’re turning out

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/nhl2012e.html

    There aren’t many who are racing with the wind, reminding us it is still early days.

    This is why I’m willing to be patient for Yak. He’s 20 points behind Galchenyuk playing 3rd line on the freaking Edmonton Oilers!! Very early days, indeed.

  17. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Lowetide:
    One thing that’s fun is to look back at the players we thought we be most valuable that day

    https://lowetide.ca/2012/06/23/2012-entry-draft-day-two-stu-and-the-scouts/

    And how they’re turning out

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/nhl2012e.html

    There aren’t many who are racing with the wind, reminding us it is still early days.

    Hnha the guy with the most GP from the 2nd round on — and it’s not close — is a fucking goalie!

  18. PREDICKTER says:

    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Maybe one of these days this franchise will figure this out.

  19. jfry says:

    we would be really lucky if this guy turns into jason chimera. that’s absolutely the ceiling though, i would say.

  20. OilLeak says:

    I wish I could get excited about Moroz, but he doesn’t have any skills of note apart from truculence. I really wish the OIlers would stop picking coke machines.

  21. russ99 says:

    As much as people rip on Nail, he’s still second in scoring in that draft group, and the player above him, Galchenyuk was nurtured, not run into the ground by a coach trying to entirely change his game in his crucial second year of adjustment to NHL opposition.

    Also I find it ironic that nobody from Tambellini’s vaunted Lucic hunt is anywhere close to helping the big club, yet 30 year old undrafted rookie Pinizzotto is the closest to doing so.

    I want to wish all in the Oiloblogosphere a Merry Christmas, and remember that better seasons are ahead of us.

  22. VOR says:

    Oil Leak, I think there is some confusion about the type of player Mitch Moroz. He can fight. He is very good at it. He throws a lot of body checks but he is like Cody McLeod in that he takes very few minor penalties for such a rambunctious player. He isn’t much of a passer but he can take a pass, can really shoot, and will crash the net. But his elite skill is checking. Moroz is an above average skater. In other words he isn’t a coke machine but a nearly classic energy player.

    The best comparable Oiler is Boyd Gordon. He was taken 17 Overall by the way. He still hasn’t covered that bet but is edging ever closer. That Moroz fights and is a big body is nice but as I have said repeatedly the reason I think he will have an NHL career is because like Boyd Gordon he came out of junior fully aware that it isn’t what you create but what you leave behind.

  23. OilLeak says:

    VOR,

    I don’t think Bod Gordon is a good comparison, Gordon put up some points in his first AHL season and put up far more points in Junior as well. Moroz will be a 4th liner if everything breaks right. That is a waste of a 2nd round pick

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