I'm not sure if you're aware, but this Sunday is the 81st Annual Academy Awards where the greatest films and stars of 2008 will be honoured for the work done on the silver screen. While this writer has some interest in seeing who wins, I have no interest in watching four hours of gift baskets being handed out to the people who need them the least. Instead, I present to you tonight's first installment of Hockey Blog In Canada's Academy Award weekend. Oscar Night is all about players named Oscar who have played in the NHL. If you think about it, you might be able to name one, maybe two players named Oscar who have enjoyed success in the NHL. And strangely, there haven't been many high-profile Oscars who have enjoyed long careers in the NHL. However, tonight's look at the Oscars will bring a little fun to what is sometimes a monotonous evening of speeches and fake reactions.
aka The Oscar Who Played The Least Amount of NHL Games
Winner: Oscar Aubuchon. Aubuchon was born in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec on January 1, 1917. He only appeared in 50 NHL games in his short career, the majority coming with the Rangers where he suited up for 38 games. The other 12 games were spent as a Boston Bruin. Career numbers? Twenty goals and twelve assists for 32 points. His 50 NHL games lasted from 1942 until 1944. Not much to speak of, but Oscar Aubuchon did play in the NHL.
aka The Oscar Who Lived Out of a Suitcase
Winner: Oscar Asmundson. Asmundson was born on November 17, 1908 in Red Deer Alberta. He broke into the NHL in 1932 with the New York Rangers. After 94 games over two seasons, Asmundson played three games for the Detroit Red Wings to start the 1934-35 season after being sold to Detroit by New York. He then was moved to the St. Louis Eagles for 11 more NHL games. Asmundson moved on to play one game in 1936-37 for the New York Americans. 1937-38 saw Asmundson dress for two games with the Montreal Canadiens. Total NHL games? 111. Stats? Eleven goals and 23 assists over those games. Total teams played for? 17, including minor-league franchises. He did, however, win a Stanley Cup in 1932-33 with the Rangers in his first season, so that has to count for something.
aka The Oscar Who Appears to be The Best Prospect
Winner: Oskar Osala. Osala was born on December 26, 1987 in Vaasa, Finland. Osala has only played one NHL game thus far in his career (he wore #48 in that game), but the Washington Capitals' prospect appears to ready to take the next step. After spending two seasons with the OHL's Mississauga Ice Dogs from 2005-07 where he put up 39 goals and 48 assists in 112 games, he joined the Finnish Elite team Espoo Blues in 2007-08. In 53 games in Finland's best league, Osala recorded 18 goals and 17 assists. He rejoined the Capitals' AHL franchise in Hershey this past season, and has excelled. In 53 games thus far with the Bears, Osala has recorded 19 goals and 12 assists. He was named AHL Rookie of the Month in November, and has helped the Bears remain as one of the elite teams in the AHL this season. Without a doubt, Osala appears to be one of the many young stars that Washington has stockpiled.
Other nominees: Oscar Hedman (Washington Capitals prospect), Oscar Bartulis (Philadelphia Flyers prospect).
aka The Oscar Who Looks Like a Bonafide Star
Winner: Oscar Möller. Möller was born on January 22, 1989 in Stockholm, Sweden. The Swedish forward really impressed NHL scouts with his play for the WHL's Chilliwack Bruins after joining the club in 2006. Over the course of 131 WHL games, Möller racked up 71 goals and 81 assists. He scored over a point-per-game pace throughout his WHL career, prompting the Los Angeles Kings to draft Möller 52nd overall in 2007. He skipped past the AHL, joining the Kings straight out of training camp this season. Of course, Kings GM Dean Lombardi allowed Möller to join Team Sweden for this past year's World Junior Championship where he was one of the better players in the tournament before being sidelined with a broken clavicle in the semi-final. He has helped Sweden bring home silver in the last two World Junior tournaments, captaining this year's team. In 31 games with the Kings thus far this season, Möller has six goals and seven assists. However, he appears to rounding into form, and looks to have a long NHL career ahead of him.
While there aren't a lot of Oscars in the NHL, there have been a few. And it appears there will be a few good Oscars playing for the foreseeable future if things go well. Without doubt, Möller is a great player who just needs a little time, but he looks like the best Oscar to break into the NHL thus far. Could there be more in the future? Only time will tell.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!