FUTURE WATCH | Mitch Moroz
Mitch Moroz is putting up career numbers in his final WHL season and looks ahead to adding heaviness to the Oilers in the near future.
19-year old Mitch Moroz has a lot to prove. That’s not to say he’s different from any high draft pick or prospect with potential, currently trying to make a career in hockey.
Moroz, drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the second round, 32nd overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, knows there’s critics out there.
“It’s funny,” said Moroz, who’s currently playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL. “I love Edmonton, I love the city and I love being part of the Oilers organization but I also remember what it was like being such a passionate fan. When you’re on the other side of it, you see all of the opinions and you try to block it out but at the end of the day, there’s always going to be people that are cynical and negative and really don’t have anything good to say.”
For Moroz, it’s not about proving anybody wrong. It is more so about proving his supporters, particularly the Oilers, right.
|Photo by Andy Devlin.
“It’s not about proving people wrong. I think when you’re doing that, you’re not in it for the right reasons. You can’t focus on that stuff. You have to keep proving people right, who have been behind you and believed in you. That’s the way I look at it. I couldn’t be happier in my position. You can’t make everybody like you but I definitely have the right people in my corner and that’s all that matters.”
During this 2013-2014 season, Moroz has gone a long way towards showing off the potential which led the Oilers to draft and then eventually sign him to an entry level deal. The 6-foot-2, 211 pound power forward has shown off some offensive skill this season with a career-high 53 points (29-24-53) in 54 games. Both his goals and assists are career highs as well.
While in the past Moroz may have been relegated to tougher minutes in a grittier role, he has been given more of an opportunity this year and has even taken on a leadership role as one of the older guys in the dressing room.
“It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had a lot of new guys come in, a lot of new faces and for myself, I was given the opportunity to take more of a leadership role and be given more offensive opportunities. When you’re surrounded by good players, those good numbers seem to come with it. It’s easy to say I’m only putting up numbers because of the people I’m playing with but that comes at all levels. Anytime you’re given that opportunity, it’s just something you’ve got to run with and I’ve been fortunate enough to put up some numbers here. As a team, we’re winning and that’s what makes it the most fun”
The grit is still a part of his game. Moroz has 126 penalty minutes and his fight card unofficially registers at 10 this season. However, Moroz has been an offensive force for the Oil Kings and that is due to confidence.
“I think my confidence level has risen,” he said. “With the opportunity, my game has come a long ways. It all stems from being founded with a physical presence and the game has opened up a lot for me and I’ve felt more dynamic as the season’s gone along. It’s just given me the ability to do more in my game and not one dimensional, in terms of a shutdown role, and to have more of that in my back pocket at the same time, that’s going to be huge for me moving on. Whatever role I need to play in the future down the stretch for our club, it’s something good to have. It’s been a good growth year for myself.”
Looking ahead, Moroz will transfer to the professional ranks next season. When you look at the direction the Oilers organization wants to go, they’re looking to add a heaviness to their game. That plays right into Moroz’s strengths which is a good sign for his future.
“It’s definitely encouraging. People want to see numbers, people want to see the flashy side of the game more often than not, but then when you don’t get results from that side of it, people want to see wins. When you look around the league at teams that are better, heavier, big and strong and those are the teams that are winning down the stretch and competing for playoff spots, winning Stanley Cups and that’s the ultimate goal. The game’s changed a lot. It’s a lot faster and a lot more skilled but if you have big players that can contribute on both ends of the ice, I think that’s the direction that you want to go. For myself and other guys, it’s definitely encouraging and it’s something to work forward to.”
Moroz doesn’t look too far into the future, though he knows his WHL career is nearing its end.
“I think I haven’t worried about it too much so far. I think once we do what we need to here, that’s something I’ll need to look at. It’ll start with a good summer of training and giving myself the best opportunity going into camp next fall with the full intentions of playing some games with the big club initially and showing what I’ve got and showing that I’m what can help them play that heavier style game… I’ve got to put in a lot of work to get there. But that stuff is in the back of my mind right now.”
The Oil Kings are on a roll. The team has won 11 straight games, beginning with an 8-0 smack down off Prince George on January 17. Moroz has 10 points (4-6-10) in those 11 games. He figures to be an integral part of the Oil Kings success as they look towards the playoffs with just 18 games remaining.
“We’ve won some games that we may not have deserved to win but good teams can do that. We’ve gone into game expecting to get the two points and that’s kind of been the mindset the past few years and now that the young guys have caught on to that, it’s all coming together. We’re definitely peaking at the right time and we want to carry that into the playoffs.”
Barons Player Stats | AHL Standings | Barons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 2012-13 | 2011-12
Stats Updated as of Tuesday February 11, 2014 at 10:30 p.m. MST
|d||19||52||5||9||14||-12||82||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|f||19||54||29||33||62||21||55||CALGARY HITMEN (WHL)|
|DARNELL NURSE||D||19||54||11||31||42||3||76||SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)|
|F||18||55||27||15||42||-5||46||VANCOUVER GIANTS (WHL)|
|f||19||43||14||18||32||-2||48||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|F||19||54||29||24||53||28||126||EDMONTON OIL KINGS (WHL)|
|F||18||39||9||8||17||-4||14||LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)|
|13||5||3||8||-6||8||OWEN SOUND ATTACK (OHL)|
|F||24||33||4||6||10||5||122||JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)|
|F||19||49||2||2||4||2||35||NIZHNY NOVGOROD (RUSSIA)|
|26||28||13||12||2||3.07||.909||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|LAURENT BROSSOIT||20||7||2||4||0||3.53||.885||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|4||1||1||1||3.15||.914||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|22||18||n/a||n/a||n/a||2.99||.894||HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)|