Trade expectation

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

Ryan O'Marra figured he was still property of the New York Islanders as the NHL trade deadline passed.

The 19-year-old centre with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League swung by his coach's office and asked whether he'd been traded. Spirit head coach/GM Bob Mancini told him he hadn't.

Fifteen minutes later, Mancini called O'Marra back into his office. He was now property of the Edmonton Oilers as part of the Ryan Smyth deal.

"Bob told me that Kevin Lowe had talked to him and told him, 'When you tell him, make sure he's sitting down,'" O'Marra said.

"It's an honour to be traded for such a great player. In my opinion he's the ultimate Canadian player and I feel privileged to be the one going back the other way."

O'Marra was the Islanders' first pick - 15th overall - in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

The six-foot-two, 200-pound centre was traded to the Oilers along with 22-year-old right winger Robert Nilsson and a first-round pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft for Smyth.

"It came as a huge surprise," O'Marra said. "The Islanders hadn't talked to me about the possibility of getting traded. My coach in Saginaw hadn't said anything.

"Two minutes before the trade deadline was up, I went into my coach's office and said. 'I guess I'm still an Islander'. Then 10-15 minutes later he tells me I've been traded to the Oilers."

O'Marra has 13 goals and 12 assists in 26 games with the Spirit.

The native of Mississauga, Ont., who was born in Tokyo, Japan, won his second consecutive World Junior title for Canada in January.

He spent his first three OHL seasons with the Erie Otters before getting traded to the Spirit in December.

"He's a real hard-working, conscientious kid," Mancini said. "I've only had him for a short period of time, but in that time you can tell that he wants to be a player.

"At this age and with so much hockey in front of him that's the most important thing."

O'Marra broke his ankle in the off-season which limited him to 13 games with Erie before getting traded.

Another car accident later in the season set him back again.

"It's been kind of a bumpy ride," O'Marra said. "But things are a lot better now. I'm healthy and I'm feel like I'm playing some of my best hockey."

The Spirit traded for O'Marra in order to make a run at this year's OHL title. They are currently second in their division (36-20-0-3).

"When we got him, he still wasn't in great shape, he still wasn't 100%," Mancini said. "There were still some lingering effects from his ankle injury. He wasn't in game shape. But he's come back and just now he's beginning to hit his stride."

With O'Marra healthy, Mancini believes his team has a shot at a league title.

He also believes O'Marra has a good shot of making it big in the NHL.

O'Marra is expected to be at Oilers training camp next season.

"I believe he's going to be a power forward at the next level," Mancini said. "He's got excellent hands, real good touch. He's probably a bit better of a passer than he is as a goal scorer ... he just has a great touch with the puck."

The only thing that comes into question with the new Oilers' prospect is his skating ability.

"It's good enough," Mancini said.

"He's not a great skater, but it's good enough. And he's smart.

"He uses his size well, he moves his feet, which sometimes with big kids like that, it's a problem. He's not afraid, he'll take the puck to the net and he's a real pleasure to coach."


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