My final edition of Prospect Profile is one that I’ve been waiting to put together since I started the series early this summer. I’m a huge Oil Kings fan, and it so happens that the Oilers have quite a few former members of the WHL team in their system, all of which were huge parts of the Oil Kings that won two WHL Championships in three years, and a Memorial Cup. Some have been drafted directly from the Oil Kings, and others have come to the Oilers after being drafted by other organizations. But they should all be familiar faces to hockey fans in Oil Country.
Connor McDavid wasn’t the only exciting addition to the Oilers on draft day this year. To go along with the 1st overall pick, the Oilers also had the 16th overall, which was acquired from the Penguins in the David Perron trade. As the Oilers were on the clock to draft a player, it was announced that the 16th pick, along with the 33rd pick, had been traded to the New York Islanders for Griffin Reinhart. Drafted 4th overall by the Islanders in 2012, Reinhart was a key piece on the blue line for the Oil Kings, captaining the team to consecutive WHL Finals appearances in 2013 and 2014, winning in the latter year before going on to capture the Memorial Cup. Prior to that, he helped the Oil Kings win the WHL Championship in 2012 as well. There are many who feel that if not for Reinhart being injured in 2013, the Oil Kings very well could have won three consecutive championships.
Following his Memorial Cup Championship, Reinhart turned pro, playing a majority of his games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, before making his NHL debut with the Islanders late in the 2014/15 season, picking up his first NHL point in those 8 games. While there are many who have criticized Reinhart’s first year as a pro, you only need to compare his AHL numbers to his WHL numbers to see that, while he didn’t light the world on fire, he stayed consistent along his career. His AHL totals were 7-15-22 in 59 games. In comparison, Reinhart’s best season with the Oil Kings was in 2011-12, were he went 12-24-36 in 58 games.
It’s going to be an interested camp for Reinhart in somewhat of a home coming. While it’s expected he’s be around until the final cuts are made, more than likely Reinhart debuts in Bakersfield this season. Not a bad thing at all. My feeling is that he and Nurse should both start the year in the AHL, unless they have stellar camps. I’m excited by the prospect of Reinhart and Nurse being THE guys for the Oilers in the near future.
Mitch Moroz suffers from his draft position. Taken 32nd in 2012, there seems to be unfair expectations cast upon the young forward. Be that as it may, Moroz was an emotional lightning rod for the Oil Kings, and a fan favorite as well. Not afraid to drop the gloves, Moroz was the ultimate team guy on those Oil King championship teams. His final three years in junior saw him accumulate over 400 PIM, but also over 100 points. His best season was in the Memorial Cup Championship year of 2013/14, when Moroz registered 35-28-63 in 70 games. It was this same year that saw the Oil Kings rally around the tragic loss of one of Moroz’s closest friends, former Oilers prospect Kristians Pelss, who passed away the previous summer. Moroz can be seen in the team photo holding Pelss’s jersey, who also got his name on the Memorial Cup that year.
His pro debut did not seem to fair as well as his junior swan song however. Moroz had a tough time adjusting to the AHL game, picking up only 9 points in 66 games with the Oklahoma City Barons. Many are viewing this as a draft bust, which is truly unfair to someone in their first year of pro. Moroz needs time in the AHL to really find his groove in the pro game, as it is a different experience compared to playing junior hockey.
Like I mentioned, Moroz is a victim of draft position. His play thus far is not in line with what is basically considered a late 1st rounder. But had Moroz gone in the third round, would people be as critical? I view Moroz as a player who has a chance to become much like his mentor, Ryan Smyth. He’s not the prettiest player on the ice, but he puts the team first, and is all heart. Hopefully a few years in the minors can help get Moroz ready to step into the Oilers line up, and bleed copper and blue.
The clock may almost be up on Martin Gernat. Drafted by the Oilers in 2011, Gernat was another key piece on the blue line when the Oil Kings won their first WHL Championship in 2012, putting up 9-46-55 in 60 games. The following year saw his season shortened to only 23 games with an injury, but he made it back to the line up in time to help the Oil Kings make another run to the WHL Finals, falling to the Portland Winterhawks in six games, after defeating them the year before.
Gernat would turn pro the following season, missing out on the WHL Championship rubber match between the two teams later that year. Things seemed to be on track for Gernat, as he came into his first AHL season, and posted 21 points in 57 games, including 4 goals. However, the next season saw some regression from Gernat, as he only managed 9 points in 54 games.
The writing may be on the wall for Martin Gernat at this point. He’s seen other players such as Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marincin get call up consideration before him. And now with Darnell Nurse and Reinhart in the mix, it’s going to be even harder for Gernat to move up the depth chart. As much as I would like to see him succeed and make his Oilers debut, it’s possibly time to cut ties with the Slovakian defender. Until then however, here’s hoping he has a bounce back season this year in Bakersfield, and can help mentor a couple of the young defencemen who may find themselves there.
He wasn’t an Oil King for long, but it was long enough for David Musil to collect a pair of championship rings to close out his junior career. Drafted 31st overall in 2011, Musil was a member of the Vancouver Giants for three years, before an early season trade added him to the Oil Kings blue line. Now playing in the city that saw his father, Frank Musil, have so much success, Musil offered immediate stability to a team that saw so many key defenders turn pro over the summer.
Musil himself would go pro in the summer of 2014, following the Memorial Cup win. His first year saw him post 12 points in his 61 games with OKC. Respectable numbers for a shut down defenseman who saw his best totals in 2009-10, putting up 7-25-32 in 71 games with the giants. The following year saw much of the same, as Musil would go 2-9-11 in 65 games with the Barons. Again, not stellar numbers, but his play was good enough to warrant a 4 game stint with the Oilers, making his NHL debut amongst a number of injuries. Musil would pick up two assists in his brief time with the Oilers.
This looks to be a significant year for Musil. Much like Gernat, he’s going to find it hard to gain on the depth chart now with blue chippers Nurse and Reinhart in the fold. That being said, he’s had a taste of NHL hockey, and acclimated himself well to it. While I would say there is a bit of a chance he sees NHL ice again this year, depending on how player health pans out, Musil will be better served playing big minutes in Bakersfield, taking on more of a veteran leadership role.
The Oilers have long needed a top goalie prospect to call their goalie of the future. The good news was there was just such a player on the ice almost nightly in Rexall Place. The bad news was he was a Flames prospect. Cue the Ladislav Smid trade, and welcome Laurent Brossoit to the organization. Brossoit was the anchor for the Oil Kings teams that made runs in 2012 and 2013, helping win the WHL Championship in 2012, and collecting the MVP award while he was at it.
Brossoit is the real deal in my estimation. The addition of Cam Talbot this off season is a blessing for Brossoit, who should be getting the bulk of the workload this year in Bakersfield. Talbot should help solidify the crease, and keep it warm for Brossoit as her continues to develop. I expect Brossoit to be the backup on this team as early as next season, and could see split time as soon as two years from now. I’m extremely high on Brossoit as a goalie, as should the rest of Oil Country after seeing him make his NHL debut with an outstanding effort last season, despite suffering the loss.
And this will conclude my 8 part Prospect Profile. I hope everyone enjoyed what I had to offer over the summer. There’s not a lot of news to cover on the prospect side of things between the draft and the start of camp. As this goes up, we’ve already concluded the Penticton rookie tournament, that saw many of these players get in front of Oilers fans for the first time. Next up will be the annual Oilers Rookies vs Alberta Golden Bears game, followed by the start of the main camp. As training camp progresses, we’ll get a better idea of where this players will be during the upcoming season. Stay tuned to beerleagueheroes.com all season long, as I’ll be providing a weekly round up of Oilers prospect performances. And don’t forget to check out all the great content found on the site, including the ongoing Season Primer series, which is profiling all 30 teams. Hockey season is almost here. Enjoy it Oil Country.