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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#1 OvenChicken8
April 08 2009, 12:18PM
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Well that sucks... But nothing surprises me this season.

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#2 Matt N
April 08 2009, 12:20PM
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Any word on how long the contract is? Is it so bad if he spends a year in argueably the 2nd best league in the world before coming over here?

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#3 smytty777
April 08 2009, 12:21PM
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What does this mean for the Oilers with respect to Omark's rights going forward? Do the Oilers have a certain period of time to get Omark under contract before he becomes a free agent available to any NHL team?

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#4 Deans
April 08 2009, 12:22PM
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Just with his upside alone, it seems that he would be more useful than Pouliot. Doesnt make much sense. Maybe more details will come to light in the next few days.

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#5 Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009, 12:26PM
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@ smytty777:

AFAIK, the Oilers continue to control Omark's rights.

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#6 moose66
April 08 2009, 12:30PM
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Another BLACK mark on the organization! Is that ok if i say that Alan Watt!!! LOL!! Or am i in trouble!!!

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#7 humantorch
April 08 2009, 12:35PM
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One can hardly count on the clownshoes running this team to do anything remotely intelligent, so it's easy to dismiss this as yet another screw-up in the ongoing grocery list of suck.

However, regardless of his perceived talent, I'm not convinced that adding another 5'9" smurf to our roster would fill many of our needs. Swapping him out for one of our EXISTING smurfs, though, now THAT would be decent.

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#8 smytty777
April 08 2009, 12:35PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: As long as the Oilers retain his rights I don't care if he plays another year in Russia. If they lose his rights this is a completely inexcusable mistake.

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#9 Colin-FMNF
April 08 2009, 12:39PM
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I thought if we had his rights no other teams (including the KHL since the agreement) could sign him to a contract?

getting really sick of this Russian League horse s**t.

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#10 Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009, 12:43PM
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@ Colin-FMNF:

Nah, the KHL sign whoever they want. They've been poaching players all season.

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#11 Rick
April 08 2009, 12:46PM
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Colin-FMNF wrote:

I thought if we had his rights no other teams (including the KHL since the agreement) could sign him to a contract? getting really sick of this Russian League horse s**t.

I don't think rights has anything to do with it. It's only if he is under contract that factors in.

Which he isn't.

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#12 Colin-FMNF
April 08 2009, 12:55PM
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@ Rick: Ah that would make sense.

@ Jonathan Willis: I guess it's only an issue when the NHL wants to poach KHL players then?

dumb. The only way to put the NHLs tolerance for this.

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#13 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 08 2009, 12:55PM
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So what are the Oilers options going forward with him? Will he be available for us to sign next year? If so, perhaps a year in another league developing instead of sitting in our press box taking up a contract is a good thing.

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#14 Wanye Gretz
April 08 2009, 01:03PM
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@ moose66:

Moose66! I see you on here you old rascal.

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#15 The Towel Boy
April 08 2009, 01:07PM
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Wait...wait...Does this mean we didn't make the playoffs?

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#16 Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009, 01:11PM
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Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

So what are the Oilers options going forward with him? Will he be available for us to sign next year? If so, perhaps a year in another league developing instead of sitting in our press box taking up a contract is a good thing.

He should be available next year too, depending on his KHL contract. But I don't think he'd be sitting in the pressbox here.

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#17 Shifty203
April 08 2009, 01:14PM
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Not really suprising. I would have been more suprised if this team pulled its head out of its ass and actually gave him a roster spot.

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#18 Rob
April 08 2009, 01:16PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

What would have we had to pay him?? I thought I heard 900 000 with a one-way contract?? If it keeps Reddox off the roster next season I would have done it.

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#19 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 08 2009, 01:16PM
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No maybe not, but as a 14th forward what if he turned out to be a Fabian Brunstrum. FB has been up and down all year cause he isnt ready. Thats the problem with these youtube players. They look flashy and they can score goals but then again so could Rob Schremp. How is that working out for him.

Most of that stuff on youtube would never ever happen in the NHL.

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#20 The Towel Boy
April 08 2009, 01:22PM
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Thinking on it a bit more...do you think the Oilers were holding off because of the possibility of Eberle cracking the lineup?

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#21 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 08 2009, 01:24PM
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Eberle isnt cut out to play in the AHL right now, let alone in the NHL. Ill put 100 bucks he will be back in someones basement in Regina.

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#22 Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009, 01:24PM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

Thinking on it a bit more…do you think the Oilers were holding off because of the possibility of Eberle cracking the lineup?

Short answer: no.

Seriously, I don't think there's any chance that Eberle cracks the roster next year.

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#23 offside
April 08 2009, 01:32PM
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@ Jack "FMNF" Bauer:

Exactly!!!! People are getting pretty excited over this guy because of a few fancy goals they saw on Youtube. There is no way I'd guarantee him a roster spot without him proving something in at least the AHL. But then again I'm not a scout, and I've only really seen his Youtube highlights - not one of him going into the corners or making any defensive plays - things that have to be considered.

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#24 The Towel Boy
April 08 2009, 01:33PM
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I don't necessarily believe Eberle will make it either...just tossing it out there as a stupid idea to try and comprehend the club's stance on Omark.

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#25 Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009, 01:37PM
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@ offside: @ Jack "FMNF" Bauer:

Actually, I'm excited because 21-year olds who are elite SEL players generally turn into pretty good NHL players.

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#26 Jon K
April 08 2009, 02:09PM
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JW:

I will differ from your opinion that the Oilers should have offered him a guaranteed roster spot.

I will agree though that someone in the organization screwed the pooch on this one.

I can understand management taking a stand on the point of not guaranteeing a roster spot: This team is in no position to be ensuring any player they'll have a spot next year. They will likely have a new coach and new team dynamic. Players will be fighting for their jobs in Edmonton, as they should be. If Omark came over and he wasn't the best option for his place on the roster, he shouldn't be there.

Taking a stand on the money however makes very little sense. Offering the rookie max was important for a few reasons:

1) Omark gets a sense that the team does believe in him by offering money commensurate to what he'd make in the KHL.

2) If he makes the roster he's making the money he wants. Incentive to ensure that he does actually perform.

3) If he fails to make the roster and isn't happy, the team could have negotiated his release to Dynamo anyway.

Anyway, the digital mob will no doubt form up on one side of the issue or the other. It's unfortunate for the team ultimately.

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#27 misfit
April 08 2009, 02:17PM
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As long as we don't lose his rights, I'm not too concerned about this. If we keep his rights, we get a chance to ensure that his great season this year wasn't a one-off, and we get the benefit of one of our prospects being continuing his development in a terrific league. All without the commitment of dedicating valuable cap space, a roster spot, and it keeps farther from the dreaded "50 contracts" limit that has everyone up in arms every year.

Obviously the big downside is not having a player on the team who could possibly help out quite a bit. We won't have him for next year, but if he tears up the KHL, then I'm sure the team will be a lot less hesitant to offer him a 1-way deal or a more guaranteed spot in the lineup next offseason.

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#28 Quinn
April 08 2009, 02:22PM
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A foolish, unnecessary mistake. It is not as though the organisation feels that roster spots are so valuable that they need to play chicken with a good, lottery ticket prospect. I have said all along, Omark needed a North American audition at the very least, and if all it took was a 14th forward roster spot, it seems a small price to pay. Simply another example of a team that cannot get its priorities straight at the management level.

This is especially galling since the Oil look to be re-building next year.

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#29 smytty777
April 08 2009, 02:24PM
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misfit wrote:

I’m sure the team will be a lot less hesitant to offer him a 1-way deal or a more guaranteed spot in the lineup next offseason.

Just to be clear it is impossible to offer a "one-way" deal on an entry level contract. See section 9.4 of the CBA: Minor League Compensation. Each SPC entered into with a Rookie in the "Entry Level System shall automatically be deemed to be a "two way" SPC with a minor league salary equal to the Paragraph 1 Minor League Salary set forth in such SPC"

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#30 oilerdago
April 08 2009, 02:26PM
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JW: On his rights, I thought that you get 2 years to sign a player who you picked in the draft. If you did not sign him in that time frame then one of a couple of things could happen:

1. You could lose his rights and he re-enters the draft (if I'm not mistaken this is how we got Jarret Stoll after he was originally picked by Calgary).

2. If you can't come to an agreement (you offer money and said player says no), you can get draft compensation back.

I'm sure someone will correct me here if I'm wrong.

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#31 smytty777
April 08 2009, 02:37PM
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@ oilerdago: There are fairly different procedures depending on whether the player played major junior, college or outside of north american. I'm not sure what the different criteria are, but I think Mikhnov is a better comparable than a Stoll (who played major junior). We draft Mikhnov in 2000 and didn't sign him until 2006 or something like that.

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#32 Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009, 02:39PM
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@ oilerdago:

It doesn't work that way with European players - the Oilers (for example) still own the rights to Bjorn Bjurling.

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#33 David S
April 08 2009, 02:39PM
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A guaranteed roster spot still wouldn't have done this deal. Obviously Omark was going for the cash and no NHL team would be dumb enough to pay that kind of cash on an entry-level contract AND lock themselves into a roster position.

Hey, the guy's YouTube videos are pretty awesome. But so were Schremp's and look how that worked out.

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#34 esa tikkanen
April 08 2009, 02:44PM
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did Omark come to training camp in Edmonton this year or last year?

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#35 Darren
April 08 2009, 02:46PM
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Just thought I'd mention...

Jordan Eberle is starting to heat up in the AHL now. He's got 6 points in 7 games and looks like he's figuring out how to score at that level. He looks like a player.

About Omark, if we still have a year or two to sign him after this year I'm okay with this; he could probably use more developmental time before jumping to the NHL.

That said, I am sick and tired of this problem with the KHL, though. Talk about a one-way street.

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#36 Kent W
April 08 2009, 02:49PM
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That kids SEL's numbers are really, really good.

Kristian Huselius played in the SEL as a 21/22 year old and put up 21-23-44 in 50 GP. As you've pointed out previously, there are other favorable comparables as well.

As such, I hope he never crosses the pond for you guys.

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#37 oilerdago
April 08 2009, 02:51PM
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@smytty and jw:

Thanks for clarifying.

This is still a dissapointing decision however, if we retain his rights all is not lost.

All of this does explain Tambellini's inability to comment the other nite when he was asked about the contract status on the radio.

Seems to me with all the changes coming, they are afraid to get locked in with yet another smallish player. Not saying that's right, but the org's having a change in philosophy regarding players acquisition.

Going to be a lot of movement (my bet) this summer.

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#38 Mike
April 08 2009, 03:10PM
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The issue with Omark's rights is this - under the old CBA, a player could be a "defected player" if they played in a rival league in Europe. In that situation, you held their rights forever. For example, 10.2 of the current CBA keeps the definition, which is:

"who, never having been under contract to any Club, but as to who the NHL negotiation rights now or at any time hereafter shall reside in any Club, has contracted or shall contract with such an unaffiliated club."

HOWEVER - section 8.6 explicitly says that even for players in European leagues, you lose their rights after 2 years. This was based on a presumption that we'd have a transfer agreement by now.

So the NHL has unilaterally said screw it, we're going back to the old "defected player" rule. The NHLPA is fighting it.

The result will determine whether we still hold Omark's rights after June 1st.

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#39 The Menace
April 08 2009, 03:15PM
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David S wrote:

Hey, the guy’s YouTube videos are pretty awesome. But so were Schremp’s and look how that worked out.

If I was Robbie's Agent I would be getting my nephew to show me how to post videos on YouTube, and brushing up on my Russian.

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#40 Jasmine
April 08 2009, 03:21PM
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Rob wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: What would have we had to pay him?? I thought I heard 900 000 with a one-way contract?? If it keeps Reddox off the roster next season I would have done it.

The problem is the Oilers couldn't give him $900,000 as the maxim on an entry-level contract is $875,000. Another problem for the rookie max is Omark was drafted in the fourth round, not the first round. The Oilers were burned once with Comrie and they weren't going to be burned a second time. We all remember the Comrie holdout after his entry-level contract expired and that he wanted out. 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.

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#41 Mike
April 08 2009, 03:23PM
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oilerdago wrote:

2. If you can’t come to an agreement (you offer money and said player says no), you can get draft compensation back.

Only applies to first rounders

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#42 smytty777
April 08 2009, 03:34PM
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@ Mike: Mike, thanks for that explanation. So basically this is completely up in the air still? With the NHL pushing for retained rights and the NHLPA pushing for free agency (not surprising)?

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#43 Thorn
April 08 2009, 03:44PM
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I don't consider this to be anywhere near our top concerns right now. I'm sure Omark will benefit playing a year with the big boys and since he'll still be available to us next year, ROCKIN'. Even if he IS ready for the NHL level of play right now, you can bet Oiler management has their plate full. They won't have the opportunity to worry about coddling another young player.

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#44 Archaeologuy
April 08 2009, 03:55PM
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Man, just when things cant get worse the KHL kicks the Oil in the gonads. Why does the NHL respect the contracts of the KHL when it's obvious it doesnt go the same way? We're looking for a pitched battle in a guerilla war. Time to stop marching in our olde timey red uniforms and get in the trees.

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#45 Mike
April 08 2009, 04:52PM
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smytty777 wrote:

@ Mike: Mike, thanks for that explanation. So basically this is completely up in the air still? With the NHL pushing for retained rights and the NHLPA pushing for free agency (not surprising)?

Bang on as to motives - the NHLPA loves anything that leads to UFA status.

Apparently the NHL has had initial success with their position, but the NHLPA is appealing it. More information is available in this thread on hfboards:

http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=546690

They're a pretty smart bunch in the business forum.

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#46 Mike
April 08 2009, 04:57PM
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Oh, one further note - the reason it's going to court is that the NHL and NHLPA had a letter in place in 2005 which basically said the two-year rule would apply when a transfer agreement with the IIHF was signed. If one couldn't be signed, the "defected player" rule would come back into effect and the two sides would meet again.

What actually happened was the transfer agreement was signed, but then not renewed as of May 2008. So the NHL is arguing that the intention of the bargain was that 8.6 only applied when a valid transfer agreement existed.

On the other hand the NHLPA is saying that the precise written terms (enter into a transfer agreement with the IIHF) have been completed, so 8.6 is the rule.

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#47 Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009, 05:21PM
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Thanks for the link and explanation, Mike.

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#48 Chris
April 08 2009, 05:23PM
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Don't like the prospect enough to guarantee a roster spot. Nobody should be fired for failing to bow to the demands of a an unproven, egotistical, little Sh!t. It's a real stretch to believe that Omark's offensive numbers would translate accross the two leagues in a way consistant with other SEL players: Fact is Omark lacks size and speed; but compensates with attitude and good hands... Smells like EUROSHREMP to me. I want to see if he's good enough to find open ice on a north american sized sheet before I annoint him a 60pt guy.

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#49 Jonathan Willis
April 08 2009, 05:33PM
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@ Chris:

Where are you getting this idea about Omark's attitude? Have you seen a scouting report questioning it? I never have.

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#50 Jon K
April 08 2009, 05:46PM
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JW: There are some pretty bitter comments coming out of Omark's mouth in some news releases today.

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