Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Saginaw deals Torquato for O'Marra


The Erie Otters' rookie dinner turned into Ryan O'Marra's last meal.

The club traded O'Marra, 19, the veteran center and captain, to Saginaw for highly rated, second-year center Zack Torquato, 17, on Tuesday night. The Otters also received second-round and fourth-round picks in the 2007 OHL Priority Selection, giving them six picks in the first four rounds of that draft.

The deal remains unofficial until the OHL approves the deal today, said Sherry Bassin, the Otters managing partner and general manager. But Bassin expects that to be a formality.

"It's an emotional night," O'Marra said by telephone late Tuesday night.

Given the club's emphasis on the future and its current on-ice struggles, O'Marra, knew the deal could happen at any time. In reality, the possibility has existed since last summer, he said. At that time, he and Bassin spoke about possibly making the move if the Otters endured a slow start this season. The feeling grew stronger in the past few days, he said. But it did not make the team dinner at Aoyama Restaurant less emotional.

O'Marra learned about the trade when Saginaw right wing Ryan Berard called his close friend, Otters goaltender Ryan Ludzik. Berard and his teammates were having a farewell meal for Torquato at the same time. So instead of enjoying Japanese food paid for by the rookies, O'Marra said goodbye to his teammates.

"(Erie) is a great place to play. It's a great group of kids, a great foundation for the future," O'Marra said. "Hopefully I've rubbed off on them for the future. ... I wish that Erie could be in the situation that Saginaw is in now. Nothing would have pleased me more than to have won (an OHL championship) in Erie."

The trade provides O'Marra with an opportunity to win a title in what should be his final OHL season. He is expected to play for the New York Islanders or the Bridgeport (Conn.) Sound Tigers, the club's AHL affiliate next season.

Meanwhile, Torquato provides the cornerstone of the Otters' rebuilding effort, Bassin said.

"This is a significant player," he said.


The Saginaw Spirit have acquired forward Ryan O’Marra from the Erie Otters, in a trade that sends Spirit 2005 first round draft pick Zack Torquato to Erie.

“This is a deal that benefits both teams, and both players," said Spirit Head Coach and General Manager Bob Mancini. "In Ryan O'Marra, we acquire one of the top experienced forwards in the Ontario Hockey League, and Zack gets a chance to showcase his talent with a young and talented Erie team in his NHL draft year. On behalf of the entire Spirit organization, I want to thank Zack for his time in Saginaw and wish him the best of luck in his OHL career and beyond.”

O’Marra was a 1st round pick, 4th overall in the 2003 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection and 1st round pick, 15th overall in the 2005 NHL draft by the New York Islanders. He was named to the OHL Team for the 2006 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. The 19 year old native of Mississauga, Ontario is expected to join the Spirit for tonight’s game.

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