The Oilers traded Mitch Moroz, drafted 32nd in the 2012, for former Oil Kings teammate Henrik Samuelsson, drafted 27th overall in 2012, in a one-for one situation that sees the Oilers move a contentious draft choice. Moroz has long been a questionable choice for many Oilers fans who feel that his talent didn’t merit his draft position. Likewise, Samuelsson has had a difficult transition to the AHL. His first season with the Portland Pirates saw him earn a call-up to the NHL to play against his father’s New York Rangers. Last season, however, injuries saw him play only 43 games, and this season he’s only played 20.
Meanwhile, Moroz struggled when he transitioned to the AHL, earning only 9 points in his first AHL season but tallying 169 penalty minutes (PIM). Last season saw some improvement, as Moroz managed one more point in only 2/3 the games, but was hardly an impressive showing. The less than impressive professional starts of both players explain why this is a trade which is being labelled as a “change of scenery.” It may be just what both players need to make something happen in a new environment and bring out the qualities and skill which saw them both drafted to begin with.
With both players in the last year of their entry level contracts, it makes sense to make the switch now. The Oilers may be able to make use of Samuelsson’s more skilled style of play. When he played for the Oil Kings, Samuelsson was primarily a goal scorer with a touch of agitator thrown in to keep things interesting. Samuelsson also brings considerable size and physicality to the Oilers, assuming he hasn’t drastically changed his style of play since leaving the WHL. As an Oil King, Samuelsson was a strong forward with a nasty edge who was unafraid to get in the middle of things even though his fighting skills left something to be desired.
In Moroz, the Oilers lose a power forward of the mold they have sought in Lucic during free agency. The Coyotes have multiple skilled players—Domi, Duclair, Strome – but lack players of Moroz’s type who can score goals but whose primary purpose is to bring the physical element. The Oilers’ need for a gritty power forward is reduced by Lucic’s long-term contract. Meanwhile, Samuelsson has all the tools required to fill a role in the bottom six requiring both skill and strength.
Samuelsson is most notable for being a big game player during his time with the Oil Kings. For instance, he had a relatively quiet Memorial Cup in 2014, only to have an incredible game in the final against the heavily favoured Guelph Storm. Moroz had a quieter tournament but ultimately had the game-winning goal in the Memorial Cup final. Samuelsson is a two-way player who is unafraid of physical play and is willing to play hard along the boards and in the corners. This makes him a good candidate for the Oilers, who have limited options for forwards who play a physical game, especially going into the expansion draft. Samuelsson is a fairly economical choice for Oilers to manage to maintain a physical player with a bit more of a scoring touch than Moroz.
The Oilers don’t lose any of the intangibles they had in Moroz through this trade – big game experience, championships won, and experience with a winning culture – because Moroz and Samuelsson came from the same organization during the same period, and both were important players to the 2012 and 2014 Edmonton Oil Kings championship teams. Undoubtedly, both players were evaluated heavily by Bob Green, who was the architect of the Oil Kings championships runs. While the Oilers have been criticized for aggressively trading for members of the Oil Kings teams from 2012 to 2014, this trade is one where the Oilers lose little and have a possibility of filling a possible hole in their roster.