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Oilers obtain Nilsson and O'Marra

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

Ryan O'Marra
Robert Nilsson
The Edmonton Oilers have traded veteran Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders in exchange for right wing Robert Nilsson, centre Ryan OMarra and the Islanders first round choice in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Both Nilsson and OMarra are first round draft choices of the Islanders, being selected 15th overall in the 2003 and 2005 NHL Entry Drafts, respectively.

With the addition of the Islanders first round choice, the Oilers now have three first round selections in the upcoming 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Following todays trade, Oilers General Manager, Kevin Lowe said "I want to be very clear that making this trade today is a hockey decision. It was not financial. The CBA we operate with in the NHL today means you need to have a sound hockey strategy and stick to it. Today we turned a page for sure – but this is not as much about the Oilers today, but what we continue to do as part of an overall plan.

Our decision is about the direction we want to take and the opportunities we have today and tomorrow with the brilliant young players we have acquired and those we have in the organization. I want everyone to know that our decision was much more to do with a plan than a reaction. Ryan is taking a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Our opportunity is to have a sound strategy for the future.

I would also like to say that Ryan Smyth has contributed a great deal over 12 seasons here in Edmonton. He should be thanked for his contribution on the ice and in the community."

Oilers President and Chief Executive Officer, Patrick LaForge added "While on the one hand some Oilers fans might be distressed that this trade was made today, I want those same fans to be assured that the Oilers will use these excellent young players and our own deep pool of young talent in a new plan for this team. We can afford to spend the money necessary to have the kind of elite players expected. This was about the Oilers staying true to a plan. I know our hockey strategy is sound."

Nilsson, currently in his second pro season, leads the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in scoring with 12-33-45 in 50 American Hockey League games and has 34 penalty minutes this season. He tops the Islanders affiliate in assists and is fifth in goals. The 511", 185 pound forward made his professional debut in 2005-06, splitting the season between the Islanders and Bridgeport. He scored 6-14-20 with 26 PIM in 53 games with New York in his NHL rookie season.

The 22-year-old played three seasons in Europe with Lkesands, Hammarby and and Djurgardens IF in Sweden and Fribourg-Gotteronn of Switzerland.

OMarra is in his fourth season in the Ontario Hockey League and has scored 21-18-39 with 63 penalty minutes in 39 games with the Saginaw Spirit and Erie Otters. The 62", 207 pound centre, who was born in Tokyo, Japan began the season with Erie and scored 8-6-14 in 13 games for the Otters before joining Saginaw. He has sascored 13-12-25 in 26 games for the Spirit.

He is a double gold medalist with the Canadian National Junior Team, winning the gold medal at the 2006 and 2007 IIHF World Junior Championships.

In his four OHL seasons, the 19-year-old has scored at almost a point-per-game pace with 89-122-211 in 227 career games and has 290 penalty minutes. He has added another 15 points with nine goals and six assists in 15 playoff games.

Following the end of Eries season in 2005-06, OMarra made his pro debut, playing eight games with Bridgeport. He scored 4-1-5 in his eight regular season games and added one assist in three AHL playoff games.
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