Oilers select Moroz from Oil Kings

Mitchell Moroz, 32nd overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers, puts on a jersey during day two of the...

Mitchell Moroz, 32nd overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers, puts on a jersey during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on Saturday in Pittsburgh, Penn. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP)

, Last Updated: 10:19 PM ET

EDMONTON - It’s tough to tell who’s happier, the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings or the kid who’s now property of both teams.

Safe to say it was big day for all three as the Oilers spent their first pick in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft (32nd overall) on bruising forward Mitch Moroz.

Central Scouting had Moroz ranked at 72 among North American skaters (up from 171 in the mid-term rankings) but with enough high-end skill in the cupboard already, the Oilers couldn’t wait. They’ve been watching his hard-nosed game from up close all year and weren’t going to risk losing someone who could grow into exactly what they need.

“We knew other teams had spent a lot of time with him, interviewing and testing,” said general manger Steve Tambellini, who’s hoping the six-foot-two, 208-pound winger will one day bring a much-needed physical element to Edmonton’s top nine.

“He has quite a presence for a young man. There’s a lot of upside there. We know he can contribute both with the puck and obviously know he has the courage to stand up and take care of a lot of people, too.”

Moroz had 16 goals and 131 penalty minutes in his first full season with the Oil Kings, the kind of two-pronged attack the Oilers need.

“You always have to step up if there’s a player you like,” said Oilers chief scout Stu MacGregor. “He provides not just toughness, but he’s a good hockey player. He takes the puck to the net really hard, shows a little bit of touch. He has an opportunity to be a good player for us.”

Getting drafted anywhere is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but going to the Oilers after being born in Edmonton and playing for the Oil Kings is like winning two lotteries on the same day.

“I spoke to (Edmonton) and all my meetings went really well, I knew they liked how I played, but it’s still a surprise for me,” said Moroz. “ I wasn’t sure where I was going to go. You get into the second and third round and anything can happen.

“I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t really believe it. It was something like a dream.”

Not all big guys play tough, the Oilers know that better than most teams, but Moroz is wired to be physical. He doesn’t have to be asked twice to get involved.

“It’s just always been fun for me,” he said. “I enjoy playing the game that way. It’s the only way I know how to play and the only way I’m going to play going forward.”

While his family lives in Calgary, Moroz was born in Edmonton, lived there till he was three and considers Ryan Smyth one of his hockey idols.

“They brought me up an Oilers fan so it’s not going to be a problem at all.”

The Moroz selections caps off a banner week for the Oil Kings, who had three players go in the top 32 — Griffin Reinhart (4th) and Henrik Samuelsson (27th).

“We’ve done good for ourselves,” grinned Moroz. “We had a great team.”

Between the WHL championship, Memorial Cup appearance and this draft, the Oil Kings are making serious noise on the Canadian Hockey League stage. GM Bob Green couldn’t be prouder.

“It’s exciting for us. The scouting staff’s done a great job acquiring these kids and the coaches have really worked well with them and developed them. And you have to give the kids all the credit in the world because they’ve worked so hard.

“There’s a lot of work left for them, but this is a great step.”

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robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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