Current Rank: 20
Summer 2007 Rank: 8
I’d guess no prospect in hockey has fallen more than Ryan O’Marra in one calendar year. Before being dealt to Edmonton, he was considered a sure fire NHLer who would have an impact soonafter turning pro. Let’s list the Redline and ISS scouting reports from spring 2005 for this player:
We love this kid and expect him to have a breakout year. A 17-year-old native of Mississauga, O’Marra has natural goal-scoring instincts and may possess the best shot in the draft. O’Marra elevated his game to another level in the playoffs which demonstrates an ability to rise to the occasion. Has ability to find a seam and get open for a laser shot…can score goals from anywhere on the ice…uses size and reach effectively. Plays an aggressive and physical game; works well in the corners, finishes his checks, has good puck control at full speed, drives the net for rebounds and demonstrates good hands in close. Is a very good skater; nice long stride, good agility, speed, strength and balance. Plays well in both ends of the ice and works hard. A real team leader and a very talented player.
When he was acquired by the Oilers, most of us felt Kevin Lowe was getting a quality prospect. What has happened since then? Well injuries are part of the answer. O’Marra broke his ankle September 16, 2006 and then much later in the season (I believe late April) a knee injury cost him the rest of the season. His numbers for 06-07 were 46gp, 26-25-51 in the OHL.
“The injuries are unrelated and weren’t career threatening, and he’s in excellent shape,” Oilers talent scout and development coach Bob Mancini said. “But they did keep him off the ice for a while, and he missed a lot of practice and game time.” O’Marra’s reaction to the injuries and his being sent to the ECHL is encouraging in that he’s not making excuses. “To blame those for not having done this or that is a cop out. I’m concentrating on showing the Oilers the kind of player I can be. I know I won’t be the fastest skater (in the NHL) and I don’t have hand speed that will make you go ‘Wow,’ but I’m gritty, and I know how to get in there and be physical. Kelly Buchberger: “He looks OK, he sure works hard. “You can use him in certain situations but I think he’s finding out that being a pro is harder than he thought it would be. His conditioning has gotten better, there’s no question.”
O’Marra is the ECHL with Stockton, has been since playing a few games in the AHL and getting sent down. He leads his team in goals (11 in 23gp) and is 4-6-10 in his last 10 games but this season cannot be viewed as anything other than a devastating disappointment for O’Marra and the Oilers.
There’s a nice little thread over at HF that has several folks popping in and giving their opinion. One of them is Islanders fan DARTH MILBURY who should be fairly well known to anyone who has spent much time around the NYI board at HF. Darth and I have posted back and forth for at least 5 years (not often, but from time to time) and although we disagree on some points the overall feel of his comments in that HF thread ring true to me on this subject:
I’m not about to jump on the “O’Marra is a bust” train because I think it is way early for that. But, the idea that this is nothing to be concerned about and is only a function of depth on your AHL team is pure spin. First, Springfield has a grand total of 1 guy with more then a PPG and is 4th or 5th in the conference. It is not the case that Springfield couldn’t fit in a high level forward.
And, if O’Marra is not good enough to force his way onto that team one way or the other, then he probably has fallen a bit in his progress.Second, even if the Springfield Falcon were as incredibly stocked as you suggest (which, again, I see as pure nonsense) it wouldn’t be particularly hard for the Oil to work something out with another AHL team. The reality is O”Marra is simply not good enough for the AHL NOW.
And I am going to have to unspin your take on his performance in the ECHL. Yeah, he has scored at a ncie pace there. But, he is still being outscored by a lot fo players who will never begin to get a sniff at the AHL – let alone the NHL.
The Oil do have to be concerned about where he is NOW. O’Marra hasn’t developed offensively as some would have hoped. And, injuries have set back his progress. Those are the reasons he is in the ECHL, not depth on your AHL team.
I’ve been watching hockey for 32 years. I can’t remember a player failing to be good enough to crack a team’s AHL/CHL affiliate (in the old days, there were two top tier minor leagues) and then go on to be a high level top six forward.
Really when it comes down to it there’s not a word out of place there. He nailed it.