SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers re-sign O'Marra

Derek Van Diest, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 AM ET

EDMONTON - Ryan O’Marra got a taste of the NHL last season during a brief callup with the Edmonton Oilers.

It left him wanting more.

“It’s like a drug, you just want more,” O’Marra said. “It was definitely a feeling of accomplishment, but once I was there, I realized my goal was to be an established NHL player and to be in the NHL on a full-time basis.

“That’s been my focus all summer. Giving me a taste, I just want more.”

One-year deal

O’Marra, 23, will get a chance to earn more as the Oilers announced on Friday they had signed the centre to a one-year contract. The Oilers also announced they signed free-agent winger Gregory Stewart to a one-year deal.

Stewart, 24, spent the majority of last season in the American Hockey League with the Hamilton Bulldogs, scoring five goals and adding five assists in 45 games.

The native of Kitchener, Ont., has 26 career NHL games, where he’s collected one assist.

O’Marra, meanwhile, who was born in Tokyo, Japan, was obtained by the Oilers from the New York Islanders in the Ryan Smyth trade three seasons ago.

The six-foot-two, 207-lb winger scored 12 goals and added six assist in 74 games with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Springfield last season.

O’Marra also collected an assist in his three-game callup with the Oilers.

“I was happier with my year on a personal level,” O’Marra said. “On a team level, I was obviously not happy. Hopefully with what I did last year, I can come in and have a good training camp.”

Originally selected by the Islanders in the first round — 15 overall — in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, O’Marra has been trying to work himself up the system since being acquired by the Oilers.

He reached the 25-goal plateau three times while playing major junior in the Ontario Hockey League, but hasn’t been able to challenge those totals in the professional ranks. The Oilers offered just the one-year deal.

“I’m excited that I re-signed,” O’Marra said. “I’m excited that they showed faith in me and gave me an opportunity again, I’m excited to be back, I’m excited for next season.”

Having come over to the Oilers in such a high-profile trade, expectations were elevated on O’Marra from the outset. With Robert Nilsson having been bought out, O’Marra and Alex Plante, who the Oilers selected with the first-round pick acquired in the deal, are the two remaining pieces of the trade.

“I think I felt a little bit of pressure in that first year when I was down in the East Coast because I was part of that deal,” O’Marra said. “But it’s been a while now, and you can’t think of it that way. All you can worry about is yourself. You can’t worry about the circumstances of how you got there.”

Spots open

O’Marra is hoping a strong off-season propels him to have a strong training camp this fall. With the team undergoing numerous changes, there are some spots available on the roster.

“My goal this year is to try to make the team,” O’Marra said. “I want to put my best foot forward and do whatever I can to press enough to make the squad this year.

“If that doesn’t happen, I’m going to go down to Oklahoma City and play as hard as I possibly can in order to be a callup.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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