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Oil King on top of the world

by Mike Benton / Edmonton Oilers
Mark Pysyk is a long way from Sherwood Park but is poised to make an even bigger leap: being drafted by an NHL club.


LOS ANGELES – Terry and Sherry Pysyk can recall the blood, sweat and sacrifice when it came to raising a son, Mark, who is perhaps hours away from reaching the gates of his NHL dream. 

“We were fortunate – most years it was evenings,” said Terry, when asked what time he would drive his son to a game or practice.

“There would be a few five o’clock or six o’clock drives to the morning practice,” wife Sherry interjected.

That dedication is about to pay off for standout defenceman Mark Pysyk, an eighteen year old and Sherwood Park native who is on the cusp of becoming the highest drafted player in Oil Kings history.

His first order of business? Sit in a director’s chair – akin to the Hollywood silver screen lifestyle – and tell the national and local media on Thursday at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft media luncheon all there is to know about himself just maybe, one day away before his dream of having an NHL name attached to his future becomes reality.

“Right now, we’re out, it’s sunny, it’s hot and it’s a good thing I have my white shirt,” said Pysyk, who couldn’t help but force an innocent smile as his day gets closer, sitting amongst as near the media attention received from the heralded Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin and Erik Gudbrandson.

Coming off a year where he led all Oil Kings blueliners with 24 points in 47 games, he has garnered notable attention amidst a hoard of back-end prospects that are favored in the eyes NHL team brass and pundits.

Family support is everything. You can’t do it without them. Without them, I’d be nowhere close where I am today. - Mark Pysyk

Pysyk, called back to a second interview on Wednesday with the Pittsburgh Penguins and mentioned interest from the Los Angeles Kings at the Draft combine, has combined his swift ability to move the puck and quarterback his team’s offensive attack to get noticed and overcome the frustrating injuries that cut short his draft eligible season, where he only appeared in 48 games.

“In your draft year, you want to be out as much as you can and play as much as you can,” said Pysyk. “It definitely was frustrating being hurt, but when I was on the ice, I did as much as I could do.”

“Playing on the Oil Kings got me a lot of minutes. I had to be efficient this year. Going into the NHL it won’t be that much (of a change) so I’ll be in good shape.”

It’s certainly got him noticed.

So much to the point, where he answered a wide range of personality profile questions with one NHL team during a draft combine interview, that has been asked of the highest prospect stars of the draft:

“Would you rather have a well-made gun or a well-written poem?”

An avid hunter with his father, Pysyk wasn’t shy in answering. 

“A well-made gun. I have no use for a poem. I wasn’t going to lie to them.” 

Pysyk is poised to become the highest drafted player in Edmonton Oil Kings history.

Most compared to Cam Fowler, it’s the attributes of Pysyk – ranked seventh among North American skaters – that have experts projecting a deep draft for defensemen, perhaps more developed than the last two years when Victor Hedman, Drew Doughty and Zach Bogosian hit the stage.

“When we’ve talked Bogosian or the Erik Johnson, these guys are going to play,” said E.J. McGuire, director of the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. “As much as last year was the ‘Year of the Swede,’ maybe this year, as far as numbers, it’s the year of the defencemen. There may be a run on them. I think we’re shedding the stereotype that defencemen take longer to develop.”

Pysyk’s future in developing will first be determined when and if he hits the draft stage on Friday at Staples Center, where he will be seated with his father and mother and hope his name is called. The rest of his supporters will be in tow at the Oilers draft party at Rexall Place.

“Family support is everything. You can’t do it without them. Without them, I’d be nowhere close where I am today,” said Pysyk.

He admitted he will be nervous on Friday, but Terry and Sherry wouldn’t let him have his proud moment on the stage without one more piece of advice:

“You never have to tell people how good you are, just show them how good you are,” Terry said.

As a projected first round draftee, family advice has served Mark well. 

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