FUTURE WATCH | Chasing a Dream
Oilers prospect Gregory Chase has made big strides this season in his offensive game.
Growing up in Sherwood Park, Greg Chase had a dream that one day he would be a part of the organization he became all too familiar with as a young player and fan of the game.
"Now that I am part of it as a player, I have no words," said Chase. "It's my dream to one day play on the Oilers and I still have a long ways to go, but I'm going to put in every effort in my body to make the team."
He may have a long way to go, but the 7th round pick in 2013 has taken great strides and is off to a quick start to his season with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL.
The 18-year-old centre has scored 13 goals and 10 assists in just 17 games. By comparison, his career-high in goals was 17 total and achieved last season in 69 games. He has shown marked offensive improvement.
"I feel like I've been off to a quick start and so has the team," said Chase. "When the team is winning, individual success comes with that."
Chase's fast start to the 2013-14 campaign has earned him multiple honours. He was named the Ed Williams Player of the Month for October, following a nine goal, nine assist month. He was also named as a representative to play in the Subway Super Series, one of five Oilers prospects to achieve the honour this season.
"It feels pretty good to get off to a good start like that. I'm pretty honoured to win player of the month. It's something I haven't won in my career and just to have a good start and build my confidence is going to help with the rest of the season."
The biggest difference between the start of this season and last year for Chase has been more opportunity. Now that Chase has been given more responsibility, he has been able to shed the straight-forward enforcer role and develop his game, resulting in more points.
"I think it's just getting a bigger role this year from last year. I am playing more power play and more five-on-five minutes. I'm better adjusted to the game this year, I'm going to the hard areas and moving my feet. I'm getting the pucks to the net and just finishing this year. I know I had a lot of chances last year but I think this year, the biggest difference is getting to the tough areas and now I'm scoring."
Chase is a tough, physical forward who prides himself on his 'agitator' role. He plays in the faces of opposing players and relishes in the fact that his opponents hate him and loathe to play against him. The young centre has worked hard to find the balance between that role and his offensive skill set, which he believes he has found this season.
"You want to be loved to be hated. It's fun to be in that role. You want to be a guy that's tough to play against and guys don't want to play against you. You can have more space out there because of that. I've been doing that well and also contributing on offence and defence. The biggest thing this year is I am keeping my emotions in check. I'm not taking it too far and over the line and not hurting my team. I know when to pick my spots."
Another Oilers prospect that prides himself on those characteristics as a player is Edmonton Oil Kings forward Mitch Moroz. The two have a rocky history as opponents who haven't been the best of friends. It's a relationship that took a turn after the two met this off-season as members of the same team.
|Photo by Brad Watson courtesy of the Calgary Hitmen
"We've played a lot against each other, we've seen a lot of each other in the playoffs. It was pretty obvious that we did not like each other at all. We're both eager to admit that. Going into development camp and after development camp, it was a different relationship. We didn't talk very much and then when we got to rookie camp and kind of settled down a little bit and got to spend more time together, we realized that we were both pretty good guys off the ice. Potentially one day, we could be big parts of the Oilers organization together so we're becoming better friends."
Moroz mirrored Chase's sentiments.
"I hated him for the last couple of years," Moroz said with a laugh. "Then we get into camp and he is what he is. He's funny and we've gotten along pretty well. It's different coming into this season, knowing him a little bit better and not having such a hate for each other. He's having a great year too. We text back and forth and when one guy has a great game, we try to catch the other guy and get one up on them. It's definitely a funny relationship."
Moroz is another prospect added to the Subway Super Series and could be on a forward line with Chase during that event. The two even shared a friendly conversation on what if they were skating together with the Oilers in the NHL someday.
Building relationships with old enemies aside, it was a successful rookie camp, tournament and main camp for Chase this off-season. When he met with key members of the Oilers brass for his exit interviews, it was clear that they liked what they saw and their advice has served the forward well.
"I met with Craig (MacTavish) and Dallas (Eakins) and Stu (MacGregor) as a group and the biggest thing for them was to always have my feet moving and be a threat on the ice at all times," said Chase. "They know I can play with the puck and I can be a little bit of an agitator and I can score when needed and play that role. If I am moving my feet and getting to the tough areas, I'm going to be a tough player to play against. I took that into the season and it's been working out for me."
Aside from meeting with the Oilers front office, Chase spent time with several Oilers and prospects and developed a rapport with them. It was something that the young man was happy to be a part of as a rookie.
"There were a lot of guys. Brandon Davidson with the (Oklahoma City) Barons was one guy in particular who was awesome with me. He helped me a lot and was a good guy. We spent a lot of time together. Sam Gagner when we got to main camp, was down to earth and wasn't against talking to a young guy like me. He would tell us stories and one time we got to go to lunch with him and Jordan Eberle. That was a pretty cool experience in itself and something you don't do everyday."
Chase looks to continue his fast start to the season when the Hitmen host their next game against Medicine Hat on November 9.
Barons Player Stats | AHL Standings | Barons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 2012-13 | 2011-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, November 6, 2013.
|d||19||16||2||3||5||5||24||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|f||18||17||13||10||23||5||24||CALGARY HITMEN (WHL)|
|DARNELL NURSE||D||18||16||4||13||17||5||35||SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)|
|F||18||20||8||6||14||-9||13||VANCOUVER GIANTS (WHL)|
|f||19||8||3||2||5||3||13||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|F||19||18||12||6||18||8||55||EDMONTON OIL KINGS (WHL)|
|F||18||16||5||4||9||1||6||LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)|
|F||24||19||4||4||8||2||45||JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)|
|F||19||22||2||0||2||-1||4||NIZHNY NOVGOROD (RUSSIA)|
|26||8||3||4||1||2.40||.925||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|TYLER BUNZ||21||1||3.00||.857||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|22||4||2||2||0||3.29||.897||OKLAHOMA CITY (Ahl)|
|22||N/A||n/a||n/a||n/a||2.01||.927||HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)|