Contrary to recent whispers out of Europe, Oilers prospect Ryan O'Marra is not considering playing in Finland and is looking forward to camp in Edmonton.
Last week I commented on the message board rumours that the 22-year-old forward was in Finland seeking employment for the 2009-10 season. At the time I said that I could confirm that O'Marra was indeed in Finland but whether he was there on business or pleasure was still a mystery.
Having just spoken to the player I can set the record straight - O'Marra was in Finland simply to train and prepare for the coming season in North America. According to the former 1st round pick, Finland offered some advantages to his preparation for Oilers camp.
"Their season starts a month and a half before ours," O'Marra told me earlier today, "I just wanted to be in the best shape I could be in for camp."
It sounds a bit unusual but a little out-of-the-box thinking is probably what O'Marra needs to kick start his career with the Oilers.
"It was my agent's idea and because their season starts so much earlier they're already in full swing," he added, "Their tryout process is done, they have their team set and their pace is pretty high plus they play on a bigger ice surface. One huge aspect of my game that I need to work on is my skating so it really became a no-brainer once I thought about it."
So for the past few weeks he trained in Jyvaskala, what he described to be a really nice University town about 3 hours north of Helsinki. There will still be people who won't buy his explanation and will believe that he's just setting up relationships for 2010-11 once his entry level deal with the Oilers expires. Not the case according to O'Marra.
"It was for no other purpose than to skate and get my hands going. This was totally innocent and I was not going there with the intention of leaving North America," he insisted, "I get it, I get why people might think that but that is not what I was doing. I want to play in the NHL."
Safe to say that this was just an internet rumour that may have made sense to some degree but in the end proved to have no foundation. O'Marra will be at Oilers camp in a couple of weeks.