Linus Omark Bound for Russia

Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009 12:14PM

Omark

According to a European newspaper, Linus Omark has agreed to join Moscow Dynamo for the 2009-10 season. A translation has been provided at HFBoards.

Many thought that they would go to the NHL. But the huge money in the Russian KHL was more appealing. Today both Johan Harju and Linus Omark signed with big club Dynamo Moscow. - I can confirm that it is true, says player agent Patrik Aronsson.

There’s bound to be blame on both ends; some will blame Omark for not doing whatever it takes to make the NHL, while others will blame the Oilers for being unwilling to give Omark a guaranteed roster spot. There’s truth to both points of view.

There is, however, one point of view which cannot be argued. Linus Omark, one of the finest offensive talents currently outside the NHL will not be an option for the Oilers next season, and that’s undoubtedly a bad thing. By way of comparison, here’s his stats line and that of Fabian Brunnstrom:

  • Omark: 53GP – 23G – 32A – 55PTS
  • Brunnstrom: 54GP – 9G – 28A – 37PTS

When you consider that Omark was a full year younger than Brunnstrom, those totals become even more remarkable. Based on the performance of players coming from different leagues to the NHL, Gabriel Desjardins developed a projection system to give a ball-park idea of a player’s likely contribution. Here is his projection for Omark over an 82 game schedule:

  • Omark: 82GP – 28G – 39A – 67PTS

That’s hardly an iron-clad number, but it does give us an idea of what players who post Omark’s numbers in Europe typically do in the NHL. Whether Omark would have been able to achieve that or not is an open question, but one thing is for sure – after an excellent job by the European scouting department to identify a late round pick, and after years of development in Sweden, Linus Omark was a very intriguing option for the Edmonton Oilers next season. The fact that he isn’t coming over can only be regarded as a negative, and if in fact the reason for his defection was that the Oilers refused to guarantee an NHL roster spot (as has been reported), somebody should lose their job.

This is the same team that’s spent roster spots on marginal talents like Liam Reddox and Jeff Deslauriers just in this past season – there’s no reason not to guarantee Omark a spot as 14th forward. This was a low-risk, high-reward scenario, and if that was the sticking point it was a bad one.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009, 06:03PM
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@ Jon K:

If I were told that my options were 65K a season in the minors with a shot at an NHL callup because the Oilers "already have too many small forwards" or 1MM+ in Russia after I put up the year Omark just did, not only would I go to Russia but I'd say some unpleasant things about the Oilers too.

Most players come across as less than perfect during/immediately after contract negotiation. It's not nearly enough to determine a guy's character from.

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#52 Jon K
April 08 2009, 07:03PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

"If I were told that my options were 65K a season in the minors with a shot at an NHL callup because the Oilers 'already have too many small forwards'"

With respect, we don't know if that was the case. There's a difference between a guaranteed roster spot and a player being told they'll start in the minors.

Might be just my opinion, but I think it's a knock against a player when they make a demand for a guaranteed roster spot. It's their job to perform and win a spot. If they perform, odds are they're not going to be held out of the lineup due to size or some other defect (Penner/MacT anyone?).

There's also the fact that Omark's comments differ from those of his agent. Omark's agent stated that the offer was a fair one but his client ultimately decided on more money. Omark spouts off about how he didn't like the way they treated him in negotiations. There's a disconnect there.

Perhaps it goes to show the advantage of negotiations where the player isn't directly involved in what occurs in the negotiations. The strategy of one party may involve points that one side perceives as personal slights. I've heard some comments from agents and GMs in the MSM about why sometimes it's never in the interest of the team in going to arbitration if they want to retain the player. The negotiations are ultimately damaging to relations regardless of the outcome.

Besides, like I mentioned before, my strategy if I were negotiating with Omark would have been to offer the max rookie ELC and then clarify that if he is cut from the team he can be released to Europe or elsewhere.

There's also the issue of whether we take the agent's comments at face value. If the deciding factor really was the money upfront then the rest of these issues are moot.

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#53 Scott
April 08 2009, 08:47PM
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Honestly, I liked his cocky attitude. he's certainly got the skills. I think he as fully capable of making the team.

hell, if guys like Reddox and Pouliot can crack the lineup, why couldn't he?

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#54 firemactandkloweallready
April 08 2009, 09:11PM
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what is everybody mad about? Did we not sign Alexi scorealotov out of the siberian league he had 75 goals and 125 assists in 36 games, the oilers scouting department say they can beleive no one heard of this guy before, problem is he is 5'6" tall and weighs 145 pounds and he is a bit old at 53 but prendergast has convinced K lowe that this guy can play right now

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#55 Tryggve
April 09 2009, 01:29AM
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I read the local news paper in Lulea, where Omark played, every day. In short: Omark wanted a rookie max contract. And he wanted to feel that they beliveid in him. I have never seen or heard anything about "guaranteed rooster spot" but he has said that he "isn't interested in playing in the AHL". There is a difference between those two statemens. It isn't far fetched to think that what he really said was more of a signal to Edmonton: "Hey, show me that you belive in me and then we'll talk". Oilers could have had him for rookie max. Now he comments it all with: "They didn't show hard enough that they belived in me".

Dynamo Moscow on the other hand payed him better, told him that he will be on one of there top two lines AND they even bought his tag team partner Johan Harju (NHL-rights belonging to Tampa) who was second or third in scoring in Sweden this season. They bought 2/3 of one of Swedens best lines this season.

Regerding Edmonton owning his rights the use and function of the term "defected" is questioned by NHLPA and anyway it is only useful as long as there is no agreement between Swedish icehockey Federation (via IIHF) and the NHL. More likely than not Edmonton, somewhere along the line, will loose him to the open market.

And yes. He is the real deal.

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#56 Tryggve
April 09 2009, 02:33AM
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Jasmine wrote:

The Oilers aren’t going to be given rookie max contracts to 4th rounders. It’s about time they put their foot down on these prospects. If he wanted a guaranteed roster psot, it’s even worse.

He was a 4:th rounder in 2007. But today ... ?

Now, I can only evaluate the swedish players in the 2007 draft and today he has, in my hounest opinion, passed every single one of the ones picked ahead of him. The only two who can make som kind of serious claim to keep up with him hockeywise is his tag team partner from last season Johan Harju (6:th round) and maybe, maybe Oscar Möller who has 8+7 in 40 games for the LA Kings this season.

Omarks game has taken of with such a speed this last year and a half that if he continues this way he will be passing the planet Jupiter in one year from now.

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#57 topshelf FMNF
April 09 2009, 08:38AM
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Anyone have any links to all this so called comments by Omark or no?

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#58 kingsblade
April 09 2009, 09:40AM
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Tryggve wrote:

Now, I can only evaluate the swedish players in the 2007 draft and today he has, in my hounest opinion, passed every single one of the ones picked ahead of him.

He's also 2 years older than any of the Swedish players picked ahead of him. He had better be better than them right now.

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#59 Jonathan Willis
April 09 2009, 09:40AM
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@ Tryggve:

Thanks for the clarification; being unable to read Swedish sucks ;)

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#60 Tryggve
April 09 2009, 10:03AM
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Only in swedish (header "Adventure this authum")

http://www.kuriren.nu/ishockey/artikel.aspx?articleid=4772892

Some of it, concerning the choise of Moscow ahead of Edmonton:

- There was so much [money] that you just couldn't turn it down

- For my part Edmonton didn't seem to belive in me. There statements were a little odd, that there is nothing wrong with me apart from beeing small and that they have many small guys on the team. To be hounest that felt a little so-so , if I may say so. Moneywise they were no way near either.

The disaapointment is obvious in his voice when he talks about the lack of interest from Edmonton. The club has had no closer dialog with him and talked about how they look upon him and his future in the organisation. NHL was after all his first priority.

- They haven't said a thing to me. If they had said that they belive in me and that I have a future there then I would have gone there emidiatly(sp?). We asked for a maximum contract since X-mas, they haven't even offered half of that. It's no way near the russian bid. - Does it fell sour that Edmonton didn't show a bigger interest?

Yes, actually. NHL was my fist option, but this will be good as well. Me and Johan [Harju - his linemate from this season] get to play together and I will earn much more than in the NHL. But of course NHL is the dream. The fact that he gets to play with Johan was crucial.

- That was Alfa and Omega. I would never have gone without him.

- There are nice arenas over there and the guys we talk to have a lot positive to say about it. And Moscow is so beautiful and there is a lot to do there. This train to NHL has left but the dream of playing in North America remains. He sees KHL as a step along they way.

- We are not trading down [from where they are today - te SEL] and we both want to come to the NHL. But this will be fine as well ...

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#61 Tryggve
April 09 2009, 10:13AM
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kingsblade wrote:

He’s also 2 years older than any of the Swedish players picked ahead of him. He had better be better than them right now.

So it may be but the point is that he isn't a 4:th rounder today and paying rookie max, I predict, would have been considered a steal, three-four years from now.

Players devolope there game in different strides and Omark has really taken off from about the last half of the 07/08 season. I personally belive that Oilers either have underestimated his progress or knows about it and have decided to take the organisation in another direction [read: no "small" guys].

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#62 TV
April 09 2009, 02:12PM
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You can't just start giving out Rookie Max ELS SPC's to 4th rounders.

That is setting a very bad precedent for the rest of your draftees & is negotiating from a very slippery slope.

The kid obviously has some talent, but why (bonus cushion aside) does he, or should he, automatically get to make the same amount of coin as Sam does when he was picked 91 picks later in the Draft..?

The NHL/NHLPA/IIHF/KHL need to sort this rule out & get their act together soon, or we are going to see a lot more Eric Lindros & Blake Wheeler types of cases where they are making of mockery out of the draft & what it stands for.

x6

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#63 scoutingzero
April 09 2009, 06:16PM
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Is this one of the biggest scouting misstakes made, we can only wait and see, or maybee the oilers thought too get a easy cheap try out with their team as the only option, for a hungry high skill ready nhl player in my opinion.

omark one of the four candidate for rookie of the year in sweden 2006-2007 motivation`: "a modern hard working forward that this season led one of his teams two offensive lines despite hes still a junior player"

i have follow this guy for a couple of year now,this guy isnt a fake hes the real deal, this season he carried his team lulea on his shoulder (they were expected to be one of the last two teams in the leauge before the season true all the experts) they finished 5th and made it to the playoffs.

he made his debute in the swedish national team(7 games) and defiently gonna play in the world cup for sweden.

he has a great vision for the game great hands, his balance at the skates is extraordinary. mikael renberg (legion of the doom)has only seen one swedish player who can compare with his balance that is red wings tomas "the beat bag" holmstrom.

he were only offer half the maximum rookie payout,if he become a free agent next year, i think some of the oilers management gonna fit in some donkeysuits next year.

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#64 Jamie Montgomery
April 09 2009, 10:54PM
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Hey Jonathan, Way to stay on top of the news, even from Sweden! Omark saw the writing on the wall and chose friendship over NHL. Too many people on HF seem to think the NHL is the be all and end all, when a hockey player today in fact has many more paths to choose. Omark's friendship with Harju, some Rubles, and not riding buses in the AHL were deciding factors. An Oiler scout or staffer taking the fall for this loss seems a bit rash. Although your point about Reddox is spot-on. Cheers, Jamie

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#65 peter
April 25 2009, 04:05PM
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Omark scored 0+5 in Swedens 1st game in the world cup. Someone in Russia is smiling today...

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