by Lisa McRitchie on 10/06/13 at 12:30 AM ET
Year after year, Edmonton Oiler fans have been told to look to the future. Now that there is an entertaining, competitive team iced every night, you might think that the message might be different. But there are still a few holes the Oilers need to fill, a few players the team could use. A trade would of course be ideal, but with the ever changing salary cap ceiling, teams have to at least attempt to develop their own players to fill in the gaps. The ever elusive power forward, able to keep up with the fast moving top six would top the required list for most people, and so the interest in prospects such as Mitch Moroz of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Greg Chase of the Calgary Hitmen is high. Luckily for these players, they are off a good start this season.
The Edmonton Oil Kings were hit hard with the loss of their most recent graduates from the WHL. Last year’s captain Griffin Reinhart is playing for the New York Islanders, Martin Gernat is with the Oklahoma City Barons, Keegan Lowe is playing for the for the Charlotte Checkers, and the list goes on and on. This year’s “top classmen” are not the same high flying, hard hitting, scoring core of last year’s season, this year’s team will need to find their identity again as they regroup and rebuild.
Off to a rocky start, the Oil Kings are 3-4-0 in their first 7 games of the season. While most losses have been due to a one or two goal differential, the Oil Kings did lose one game by 6 goals. As the season progresses, players will become once more accustomed to the WHL pace of travel and play; early in the season it’s easy to expect adjustment time after players have been released from NHL camps. Somehow, Mitch Moroz didn’t skip a beat, and had little issue find the back of the net for the Oil Kings. Moroz is a goal per game player with 7 goals, 3 assists and 29 penalty minutes in his first 7 games of the season, enough to be ranked 7th in the Eastern WHL conference for scoring, and 13th overall. Moroz has been a staple for the team’s top line, and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
Moroz is a character teammate, a hard hitting player, as well as a goal scorer. Moroz reached his current career high of 16 goals in 2011-12 player a lesser role. This season, playing on the top line, Moroz could easily hit 20 goals. While WHL scoring numbers don’t translate directly to NHL expectations, if you can’t score in the WHL you can’t be expected to suddenly become a goal scorer at higher levels.
Moroz will add to his fight and goal tallies throughout the season, and Oiler fans will rejoice.
There are a number of Oilers fans in Calgary. Many openly cheer while others have to be a little more subtle. Greg Chase has to keep his allegiances quiet. Playing for the Calgary Hitmen, sharing the Saddledome ice with the Calgary Flames, Greg Chase hopes that the local team does well, but not as well as his Edmonton Oilers. After slipping in the 2013 NHL entry draft, almost as if teams forgot that he hadn’t been picked, Chase was selected in the final round by the Edmonton Oilers, a team that he grew up cheering for.
Playing for the Hitmen, Chase has been a thorn in the side of many an Oil King player, a trait that the Oiler are looking for in their players. Chase can be a pest on the ice, Chase can fight, and Chase can score goals. In the first 4 games of the season, Chase currently has 6 goals, 1 assist and 12 penalty minutes. Chase could reasonably be expected to score 20 goals this season.
There are several Oiler prospects in the system of note, but with their high scoring starts to their seasons, Chase and Moroz are worth keeping an eye on.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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