Oil Kings’ Moroz headlines Edmonton Oilers playoff update

By Kady Hobbins

Mitchell Moroz - Edmonton Oil Kings

Photo: A second period goal from Mitchell Moroz turned out to be the game-winner in Edmonton’s 6-3 win over Guelph in the Memorial Cup final (courtesy of Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

The 2013-14 playoff season was a busy one for Edmonton Oilers prospects. Despite the NHL team missing the playoffs for the eighth season in a row, nearly every pro affiliate and junior/collegiate squad earned a trip to the post-season.

Several prospects earned valuable experience in deep playoff runs, including a Memorial Cup victory by CHL prospect Mitchell Moroz and a Frozen Four appearance by NCAA-turned-pro prospect Dillon Simpson.

WHL

The fairytale story of the 2013-14 post-season was the hard-fought WHL championship victory, followed later by the Memorial Cup win for Oilers prospect Mitch Moroz and the Edmonton Oil Kings. Moroz came up big in a number of must-win situations, including scoring the game-winning goal in the Memorial Cup final. Moroz logged 19 points in 21 WHL playoff games, then added four points in five games at the Memorial Cup.

Jackson Houck and the Vancouver Giants fell victim to the Portland Winterhawks in a four-game first-round sweep, while Greg Chase and the Calgary Hitmen lost out in six to the Kootenay Ice in round one. Rounding out the WHL prospects is Ben Betker, whose Everett Silvertips lost in five to the Seattle Thunderbirds.

AHL

The Oklahoma City Barons qualified for the post-season for the fourth year in a row, their line-up bolstered with a number of prospects who either finished out the season with the Edmonton Oilers or signed ATO agreements after their respective teams’ playoff races ended. Despite the efforts of Oilers prospects Tyler Pitlick, Jujhar Khaira, Curtis Hamilton, Kale Kessy, Andrew Miller, Travis Ewanyk, Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Darnell Nurse, Martin Gernat, Brandon Davidson, Kellen Jones, Taylor Fedun, Greg Chase and Brad Hunt, the Barons lost three close games to the Texas Stars in a best-of-five series.

Notable performances included Curtis Hamilton and Brad Hunt, who both registered a goal and combined for 16 shots on net in three games (six from Hamilton, 10 from Hunt). Goaltending prospect Frans Tuohimaa also made his debut for the Barons on April 19th.

ECHL

Since being traded to Edmonton from Calgary in a mid-season deal, Laurent Brossoit has taken the ECHL by storm, leading the Bakersfield Condors to not only a berth in the Kelly Cup playoffs but also carrying the team to the Western Conference Finals. Bakersfield fell to Alaska in six games in the conference finals series, but Brossoit maintained a .921 save percentage and 2.27 goals against average while appearing in all 16 playoff games.

USHL

Oilers prospect Aidan Muir was a member of the 2014 Clark Cup-winning Indiana Ice. Muir’s contributions were relatively inconsequential, logging one goal and one assist in 10 post-season games.

NCAA

University of North Dakota senior Dillon Simpson had the season of a lifetime, captaining his squad to an NCAA Frozen Four berth. The Hobey Baker-nominated defenseman led the entire NCAA with 109 blocked shots, and while his team lost a heartbreaking 2-1 decision to the University of Minnesota in the Frozen Four tournament, Simpson capped off his final collegiate season with the University of North Dakota’s Most Valuable Player Award.

After the Quinnipiac Bobcats lost to Colgate University in the ECAC semi-finals, Kellen Jones joined the Oklahoma City Barons for their playoff run. While with Quinnipiac, the senior (along with twin brother Connor) was a big part of the Bobcats’ post-season success and was nominated for the ECAC Best Defensive Forward award. In the AHL, he logged one assist with the Barons. John McCarron and the Cornell Big Red knocked off Clarkson University in the ECAC quarterfinals, but lost out to Union College in the semi-final matchup.

Evan Campbell and the UMass-Lowell River Hawks fell to Boston College 4-3 in the Northeast Regional Final. Prior to that, Campbell earned the Rookie of the Week honors in the River Hawks’ semi-final victory over Notre Dame.

University of Denver junior and defenseman Joey LaLeggia had a strong third season with the Pioneers, racking up 21 points in 31 games with the NCAA club. LaLeggia earned coveted honors as the NCHC conference’s defenseman of the year, beating out his fellow prospect, Dillon Simpson.

OHL

Oilers defensive prospect Darnell Nurse appeared in nine playoff games for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, logging three goals and five assists for eight points. After his team was eliminated in the second round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs by the Erie Otters, Nurse joined the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL, where he appeared in three games and notched one assist.

After being traded from the London Knights to the Owen Sound Attack in January, Kyle Platzer lost out to Darnell Nurse’s Greyhounds in a five-game decision in the first round of the OHL playoffs. Platzer logged one goal and two assists for three points in the series.

QMJHL

In a deep playoff run for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Marco Roy chalked up 12 points in 20 games, before losing out to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the President’s Cup conference Finals.

Europe

Anton Slepyshev played 14 post-season games with Salavat Yulaev of the KHL, but was relatively inconsequential, playing sheltered minutes and registering only one goal and one assist.

Other notes

The Edmonton Oilers signed college free agent Jordan Oesterle on March 31st. The 21-year-old defenseman was in his junior year at Western Michigan University, but will forgo his senior season in exchange for a professional contract. A quick, puck-moving defenseman, Oesterle settled in nicely among a logjam of blue-line prospects in Oklahoma City, appearing in four regular season games and one playoff meeting, earning one goal. The former Western Michigan Bronco had two goals and 15 assists for 17 points in 34 games in 2013-14.

The Oilers signed prospect Bogdan Yakimov to a three-year, entry-level deal on May 8th, shortly after agreeing to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with Dillon Simpson on April 23rd.