Pysyk's draft journey overshadowed

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:33 PM ET

EDMONTON - LOS ANGELES — If you’re looking for Mark Pysyk, try the shuffle ... that’s where he’s been lost for the last few months.

The Oil Kings defenceman is one of the highest rated Edmonton players in the draft in some time, but it just happens to be the only time in Oilers history that they’re picking first overall.

So while his home town is all abuzz with Taylor or Tyler, Pysyk is going through the most exciting time of his life in relative obscurity. As obscure as it gets, anyway, when they jet you into Los Angeles, check you into a swank hotel and show you the town.

“It’s actually a lot easier going into this week,” said the seventh ranked North American skater. “In Edmonton all you hear about is Tyler/Taylor, I don’t mind that. It was a little more calm and quiet for my family and myself, it’ll be more special for us.”

All 18 of them made the trip to L.A.

“It will be cool to share it with everybody.”

It’s been a long road for all of the prospects, and the 6-foot-1, 174-pounder is no different. He made it to No.7 on the strength of a 48-game season that was cut short by a broken foot.

Not bad.

“He carried our team on his back a lot of nights this winter,” said Oil Kings GM Bob Green. “And the fact he played with a broken foot for a couple of games before he was forced to end his season shows you how much character he’s developed.”

Enough to get him to a stage in Los Angeles with the best young players in the world.

“It’s been surreal,” said Pysyk. “You definitely don’t expect any of this when you’re a little kid. You dream about it, but never really think that it’s all going to come true.

“Then you’re at the draft! It’s really hard to explain how nervous I am all the time, just thinking about it. It’s always on my mind.”

Imagine what it’ll be like when they start picking.

“It’ll be like sitting in class and you didn’t do your homework and the teacher is going through the list asking who did it and you know you’re coming up next. Your heart is beating through your chest. It’ll be something like that, I think.”

Why wouldn’t he be nervous. His life will change on Friday.

“A lot of my friends get to pick where they’re going to live, where they’re going to go to college. I have no choice — whatever team picks me that’s where I’ll be living my life.”

Being an Edmonton-born player playing for the Oiler-owned Oil Kings, it’s obvious who he’d love to play for.

“I don’t know if I should say this, but I was a big Calgary fan growing up, so the Calgary Flames. I think the Oilers are out of the mix for me (picking first and 31st).”

So, too, probably, are the Flames, who don’t have a first round pick.

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Alex Petrovic of Sherwood Park, ranked 29th on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters, is a solid second round prospect. At six-foot-fur and 193 pounds, he plays it tough, and even got in a scrap at the Top Prospects game in January.

“He’s big and strong in his own zone, with a nice first outlet pass,” B.J. MacDonald, Central Scouting’s WHL scout, told NHL.com.

“He can be snarly at times. He looks and plays like a defenceman. I like his upside and he will continue to improve. He is legit.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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