Since being drafted 14th overall in 1997 Michel is the Oiler’s David a potential masterpiece a project which takes time and patience. After coming over to North America for the 1998-99 season it has taken over 200 games in the American Hockey League for him to realize what it takes on a nightly basis to make the leap forward. The largest improvement has come in his willingness to take responsibility for his defensive assignments in neutral and defensive zones.
As ice time increased for him with a more dilligent work ethic the offensive stats began to appear as well with 56 goals over the last 140 games with a multitude of different linemates as well. At the begining of the season Michel had the chance to secure a roster spot with the Oilers but after 12 games he was sent back down. His demotion was not due to lack of effort in either offensive of defensive areas but having been paired up the two other rookies for the majority of the time did not allow him to showcase his talents.
Pure and simple he is a goal scorer and perhaps he does not have the grit and physical presence that the Oilers ideally look for but does however possess talents that could help them become a more well rounded team. Next training camp will tell if the Oiler’s management and coaching have the forsight to place Michel on Doug Weight’s line with Dan Cleary. With Dan Cleary’s game rounding out and Doug Weight’s ability to make players around him better thier may not be a better place for Michel in the league.
At the start of next season Michel will be 22 yrs of age which in most accounts seems to be around the time most scoring wingers start to break out of thier shells. An interesting stat that brings hope to all of the organization is that of all the scoring wingers in the League currently 75-80% will produce 40 points or more at the age of 23. So all that toiling in the minors may have been a blessing in disguise.
If the transition for Michel and the Oilers is a smooth one at the start of next season only two holes will remain in pushing this organization into upper echelon of the league.