May 12, 2010 Leave a comment
When the Edmonton Oil Kings decided to make Mark Pysyk their first ever Bantam Draft pick in 2007 (third overall), fans assumed the franchise knew what they were doing.
Well, they clearly did.
Pysyk, who is ranked seventh overall by NHL Central Scouting, was exactly the dominating defenseman the Oil Kings were looking for. In his rookie season in the WHL, Pysyk put up 20 points in 61 games, but increased his per game production this year, scoring 24 points in just 48 games, while missing some time due to a concussion.
The 6-foot-2, 178-pound Edmonton, Alberta native was unable to lead the Oil Kings to a deep playoff run, losing in the first round of the 2008-09 playoffs and not qualifying this season. However, the team’s performance does not reflect Pysyk’s play during his Western League career.
“We’re really proud of the way Mark has developed both as a hockey player and as an outstanding member of the community,” said Oil Kings General Manager Bob Green. “He carried our team on his back a lot of nights this winter and the fact that he played on a broken foot for a couple of games before he was forced to end his season early shows how much character he’s developed. He is a model Oil King.”
Pysyk, a versatile defenseman, has great passing and skating abilities and has been compared to Scott Niedermeyer in terms of style. Playing for the second-worst team will not help his stats, as he was a minus-19 this season, but scouts are able to look past the stats and see Pysyk’s true talent.
Pysyk was recently awarded the Greg Tomalty Award as the Oil Kings’ most valuable player, the Top Defenseman Award and the Scholastic Player of the Year as the highest academic athlete. This speaks not only to Pysyk’s hockey skills but also his ability to be a smart player and all-around person.
“He has his limitations so he keeps it simple,” Sports Illustrated said of Pysyk. “He’s best when you don’t notice him. He’s not going to make the flashy pass. He’s a chip it in, chip it out guy. He’s really effective at angling off an attacker and clearing the front of the net.”
You may not notice him, but other NHL teams sure have. Look for Pysyk to go somewhere in the middle of the first round to a team looking for a shutdown defenseman with lots of character.
Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com. In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News , he has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers . He is the general manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him at BergHockey24@gmail.com .