Getting To Know You: Phil Oreskovic

Getting To Know You: Phil Oreskovic

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    PHIL ORESKOVIC (# 4) – D

    Player Facts

    Birthdate: January 26, 1987
    Stargazing: Aquarius
    Hometown: North York, Ontario

    Size: 6-3, 217 lbs (team listing)
    Shoots: Right

    Acquired: Drafted by Toronto in 2005 (3rd round, 82nd overall)
    Cap hit: N/A (plays in AHL); $508,333 if recalled to NHL
    Signed through: 2009-10 season
    FA status: RFA after 2009-2010 season

    You May Not Know This, But

    • Oreskovic’s father is Croatian, and emigrated to Canada in 1962
    • Can speak fluent Croatian
    • Played goal as a youth in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL)
    • Was voted the best body checker and best defensive defenceman in 2005-06 by OHL coaches.
    • Was the Marlies‘ recipient of the AHL Man of the Year award following the 2007-08 season for outstanding contributions to the Greater Toronto Area community.

    Scouting Profile

    Strengths

    Oreskovic can hit with the best of them, and graduated from the OHL renowned as one of the top bodycheckers in the game.  He is also quite willing to drop the gloves.  His defensive positioning is excellent, and he uses his size well to block shots and clear the front of the net with ease.  His long reach enables him to effectively poke-check opposition forwards, and knock loose pucks clear of danger.

    Weaknesses

    As is the case with many players of his size, Oreskovic’s skating abilities hold him back.  While he is difficult to knock off balance, his lack of foot speed can lead to him being unable to recover if he is caught out of position.   He possesses few offensive skills, other than a decent first pass out of the zone.

    Career Notes

    2003-04:  Scored 0 G, 7 A, 64 PIM, and a +7 rating in 66 games with the Brampton Battalion of the OHL.

    2004-05
    Improved to 1 G, 6 A, 147 PIM and +12 in 61 games with Brampton.  Drafted in the 3rd round by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2005 Entry Draft.

    2005-06
    Compiled 3 G, 9 A, 202 PIM and a +4 rating in 65 games with Brampton.

    2006-07
    Was traded to the Owen Sound Attack midway through the season.  Recorded 3 G, 19 A, 179 PIM and a -9 rating in 62 games overall.  Also saw action in 3 games for the Toronto Marlies.

    2007-08
    Started the year in the ECHL, posting a +12 rating in 13 games.  In 54 games with the Marlies, recorded 1 G, 9 A, 68 PIM and a +15 rating.

    2008-09
    In 43 games to date, has scored 1 G, 6 A, 75 PIM and a +11 rating.

    From The Grapevine:

    Due to his size, and his name, fans and players affectionately refer to Oreskovic as “The Ostrich.”  His lack of foot speed often overshadows his excellent positioning, and his uncanny ability to anticipate the play.  You know the phrase, “you’ve got to see it to believe it?”  Word from the stands is you have to “hear” his hits to believe them, that’s how hard he checks.  I am told that he is a willing fighter, but picks his spots wisely, and can generally be trusted to not be goaded into a fight during crucial game situations where he is needed on the ice.   Speculation abounds that fan favorite Jay Harrison was let go in large part because Oreskovic plays the exact same style of game, but has a much higher upside.

    Notable Quotables: ex-Leaf GM John Ferguson, Jr

    On the development of Phil Oreskovic …

    “Phil is a hard-nosed stay at home defenceman who’s able to control the flow of the game with his defensive positioning and size.  We’ve seen him in training camp the past two years ['05 and '06] and look forward to watching his development with the Toronto Marlies.” (The Star)

    Notable Quotables: Phil Oreskovic

    On being a local kid drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs

    “I was just hoping to get drafted, but once I got the call and I was told I was going to the Leafs it was really overwhelming. It was pretty nerve-wracking waiting to see my name come up … I knew the Leafs were interested in me. We had a really good meeting. They made me feel very comfortable. I am sure there are a lot of things they would like me to improve and hopefully I can bring what they want to the table.”
    (The Star)

    On Marlie goaltender/teammate Justin Pogge …

    “He’s a tremendous goalie and it seems every game he just gets better. I think, like all of us, he’s still got some fine tuning to do but he’s got such a positive attitude and if he stays that way he’ll have no trouble making the next level.” (Ontario Hockey)

    On making it to the NHL …

    “I’d love to play with the Leafs this season but I won’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen. I’m happy with where I’m at and I know I’ve got to keep improving. My whole hockey career has been a dream come true so far. I got to play for my hometown OHL team (Brampton) and then I got drafted by the Leafs.  It’s good.” (Ontario Hockey)

    Video Highlights

    Oreskovic’s leadership skills are on full display in this interview during the Marlies’ 2008 playoff run.
    http://mapleleafs.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?&id=17499

    Scrapping with Hamilton’s Ryan Flinn
    http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=pJiNIX_pKzM

    In My Humble Opinion

    If the pre-lockout style of play was still in vogue, Phil Oreskovic would be an NHL regular already.  However, in the faster, more wide-open style of game of today, he is at best a third-pairing defenseman who can be an asset on the penalty kill.  A fair comparison would be Hal Gill, who was a top-pairing defender in the Dead Puck Era, but is now more of a #4 to #5 defender and PK fixture. Oreskovic should eventually make to the NHL due to his solid defensive and physical play, but will have to work hard every day – especially with regard to his skating ability – to maintain his ice time and his place in the lineup.

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