World Championships Reaction: Prendergast and Omark

Jonathan Willis
May 12 2009 01:29PM

omark

Linus Omark’s performance at the 2009 IIHL World Championships turned some heads – including among the Oilers brass. Kevin Prendergast was asked about him in today’s edition of the Edmonton Sun.

"We knew what he was all about before (heading to Switzerland)," said Oilers vice-president of hockey operations Kevin Prendergast. "He has a lot of skill. He certainly has offensive tools and he thinks the game really well and he's got good hands. The thing we didn't expect is how gritty he is, how tough he plays against bigger players. He goes to all the gritty areas."

I really hope that Prendergast is exaggerating when he says that they didn’t expect Omark to be so gritty. The Elitserien, where Omark’s spent the last four seasons, isn’t exactly for shrinking violets, whatever its reputation. It’s got a ton of ex-HNL defensemen, from 6’5” Ivan Majesky to Joe Dipenta, a gritty player who was a regular on the Anaheim Ducks team that won the 2007 Stanley Cup, to Pavel Skrbek, an ex-Predators prospect whose greatest asset is his hitting game. Every team seems to have at least one enforcer, many of them ex-NHL’ers including Kris Beech (146PIM in the AHL in 2004-05) and Kristian Kudroc (topped 100 PIMs three times in North America and managed 227 in just 48 games in his first year back in Europe).

In other words, there’s been plenty of opportunity for Oilers’ scouts to watch Omark play against big opponents and opponents with a mean streak, so hopefully the team already had a good idea of his capabilities in that area. More from Prendergast:

“He's not afraid of anything. He's a good enough skater, he separates himself from people and he makes plays. He's highly skilled and he plays in all the gritty areas. If he has a negative it's his size."

The other thing that I’d add to that is that Omark looks like he cheats for offense. I didn’t watch every game, and I’ll also admit that I’m highly against forming an opinion on a player over such a limited span, but it looked to me like Omark was the first guy out of his own zone pretty much every time. He didn’t play a lot of powerplay minutes as far as I saw, but he’s dynamic 5-on-5, playing a tremendous cycling game and distributing the puck quickly and with ease. It’s good to hear Prendergast speak so positively about Omark; it’s a significant change from his comments prior to the tournament. I really hope though that the Oilers are forming their opinion of Omark based on his play during the season, rather than at one tournament.

Finally, a couple of fun quotes from Omark on his performance at the World Championships. These are translated via Google, so there may be some slight error but the gist is there. First on his point production:

“More than a point per game. I am happy with but it could have been more.”

And more interestingly, a quote on what Omark thought of playing against NHL players and established stars like Jaromir Jagr:

“The stars were perhaps not as good as I expected.”
74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
Avatar
#1 Archaeologuy
May 12 2009, 01:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

With Omark playing so well, I wonder how in touch the Oilers brass was with their European scouts and development team. Then again maybe those comments from before the Tourney were meant to save face more than to give an actual assessment of Omark.

Avatar
#2 Tom
May 12 2009, 01:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

"The other thing that I’d add to that is that Omark looks like he cheats for offense".

WOW a non-statistical opinion from J. Willis.

Avatar
#3 DK0
May 12 2009, 01:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I like his comments. We don't have enough confidence in the room right now. Closest thing we have to confidence is Hemsky going "I want to be the man". We need someone who says "I AM the man, and I am going to go out there and prove it". Hopefully Omark has a random 18 year old growth spurt :)

Avatar
#4 Chris
May 12 2009, 01:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ DK0:

Omark is already 22... But I would have liked to see him at training camp.

Avatar
#5 Archaeologuy
May 12 2009, 01:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Tom wrote:

WOW a non-statistical opinion from J. Willis.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that Willis ONLY uses stats to form opinions.

Avatar
#6 topshelf
May 12 2009, 01:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

You mean to tell me that he isn't the second coming of Rob Schremp?? Who knew...

Avatar
#7 DK0
May 12 2009, 02:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Chris: He's 22? You sure? i just read the article where JW was getting the quotes from and it had this:

At five-foot-nine and 168 pounds, the 18-year-old left winger needs physical maturing, which is why the Oilers aren't too torn up that he signed a two-year deal with Dynamo Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Avatar
#8 topshelf
May 12 2009, 02:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ DK0:

From hockeydb.com

Born Feb 5 1987 -- Overtornea, Sweden Height 5.09 -- Weight 168 -- Shoots L

Avatar
#9 Archaeologuy
May 12 2009, 02:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ DK0: He was drafted in 07, so unless he has a time machine he has to be older than 18. And the Oilers list him as 22 yrs old.

Avatar
#10 DK0
May 12 2009, 02:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Quality journalism by the Sun :P

Avatar
#11 Jonathan Willis
May 12 2009, 02:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ DK0:

Rob Tychowski's had a rough year. Mixing up 18 and 22 is a lot more forgiveable than writing a game report where you herald a goaltender who didn't actually play.

Avatar
#12 Archaeologuy
May 12 2009, 02:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

DK0 wrote:

Quality journalism by the Sun

Maybe the first time those words have ever been written by someone outside of the Sun.

Avatar
#13 DK0
May 12 2009, 02:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Archaeologuy: DK0 wrote:

~ Quality journalism by the Sun ~

Fixed it.

Avatar
#14 Archaeologuy
May 12 2009, 02:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ DK0: I used to enjoy the Sun's sports section. I look at both online now, it isnt even close in terms of quality (IMHO). Even their website seems tabloid and Tychkowski is the only writer I like (even if he doesnt know which goalie is in net or how old Omark is).

Avatar
#15 Quinn
May 12 2009, 02:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Its funny that people were getting on Omark about not being gritty enough, because it looked to me (from his Youtube clips I admit) like he was a guy that played the downlow and took the bumps to get the goal. I actually thought he had a bit of Hemsky in some shots.

I am not making an argument in based solely on Youtube, but I think it would be pretty obvious to anyone watching Omark with a little regularity that he plays bigger than he is. I sure hope that the quotes in the Sun are a face-saver and not genuine surprise.

Avatar
#16 Quinn
May 12 2009, 02:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Archaeologuy: I agree with you on the Sun - I used to turn to it first to find out what was what with the Oil, but I never go there now and that started a long time ago.

Avatar
#17 topshelf
May 12 2009, 02:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Quinn: I agree. It seemed to me that even in his youtube highlights, which I understand only show a limited amount of his game, he is willing to take the puck into the hard areas to generate offense.

Avatar
#18 Chris
May 12 2009, 03:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

This dovetails nicley with Willis' article about luck...(Well, not really) Omark has a breakout season; but the Oilers can't afford to get smaller... Murphey's Law dictates that Jordan Schroeder will still be available at tenth; because the Oilers can't afford to get smaller... Eberle WILL have a fantastic camp; but only because the Oilers can't afford to get smaller...

As for Schroeder: if he is still available at tenth; the Oilers should draft him under the BPA concept. If they do however, I'll complain, and suck, and whine about it...(Especially if Kassian is still available). On the other hand, if MacGregor does what I want and drafts Kassian; and then three years later Schroeder scores 25 for the Predators while Kassian is still learning to skate in Springfield... I'll change my name to F@nboy_73 and complain about Tambellini's failure to address scouting.

*Joking...I think...maybe not...*

Avatar
#19 Ducey
May 12 2009, 03:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

"I really hope that Prendergast is exaggerating when he says that they didn’t expect Omark to be so gritty."

Well, to be fair, there are other options other than the scouts being incompetent. Maybe the toughies don't play the same in Europe. Maybe Omark avoided traffic during the regular season. It would seem he was likely playing against the best players he ever has, so it wouldn't be unusual for the staff to be surprised at how well he competed against bigger NHL players.

Pretty hard to criticize the staff when they picked him up in the 4th round in the first place. In fact, 5 out of 6 players in that draft (Gagner, Plante, Nash, Omark and Kyntar) look like they have a chance.

Avatar
#20 Lofty
May 12 2009, 03:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Has anyone read David Staples blog on a Penner for Gomez deal?

http://communities.canada.com/edmontonjournal/blogs/hockey/archive/2009/05/11/dustin-penner-for-scott-gomez-new-york-post-rumour.aspx

Good way to kill a franchise for a decade!

Avatar
#21 Chris
May 12 2009, 03:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Ducey: I'm curious to see Nash at camp... It's wierd, but when Cornell plays Yale I've had problems finding the game on TV...

Avatar
#22 Rick
May 12 2009, 03:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I didn't catch much of the WHC so this is a question those that saw him play.

Was his tournament really all that impressive?

He beat up on a crappy team with a 5 point first game then ended up with only 5 pts in the last 8 games against the real teams. It's not exactly the type of splits that leap to mind when a player is happy he finished at a pt/game.

Avatar
#23 Jonathan Willis
May 12 2009, 03:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Rick wrote:

He beat up on a crappy team with a 5 point first game then ended up with only 5 pts in the last 8 games against the real teams. It’s not exactly the type of splits that leap to mind when a player is happy he finished at a pt/game.

He didn't get much powerplay time; that's very impressive EV scoring.

Avatar
#24 Archaeologuy
May 12 2009, 03:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Rick: but he said he wasnt happy with it, he said he thought he could do better. It was his second last quote. And he did better than any other Oiler there.

Avatar
#25 Jonathan Willis
May 12 2009, 03:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Ducey wrote:

Well, to be fair, there are other options other than the scouts being incompetent. Maybe the toughies don’t play the same in Europe. Maybe Omark avoided traffic during the regular season. It would seem he was likely playing against the best players he ever has, so it wouldn’t be unusual for the staff to be surprised at how well he competed against bigger NHL players. Pretty hard to criticize the staff when they picked him up in the 4th round in the first place. In fact, 5 out of 6 players in that draft (Gagner, Plante, Nash, Omark and Kyntar) look like they have a chance.

I didn't mean to come across as critical of the staff so much as I was implying that I doubted Prendergast's statement that this was a new development. The SEL's a fairly tough league and there's plenty of grit there, so there should have been ample opportunity to be sure Omark was playing that way against bigger players.

Certainly a run against HV71 is a bigger test than a game against Latvia, yes?

As for the conjecture that he avoided traffic during the regular season, if so I hope the Oilers have the good sense to place a bunch of regular season play above one tourney.

Avatar
#26 Rick
May 12 2009, 03:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Archaeologuy wrote:

And he did better than any other Oiler there.

Wasn't everybody better than any other Oiler there?

Oh well, atleast we won't have to sit through the summer and listen to all the Oilers fans trumpet on about how great they finished or how they broke out at the WHC.

We can go into next camp with nice low expectations and maybe get surprised in a good way for a change.

Avatar
#27 Archaeologuy
May 12 2009, 04:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Rick wrote:

Oh well, atleast we won’t have to sit through the summer and listen to all the Oilers fans trumpet on about how great they finished or how they broke out at the WHC.

Remember when Conklin won Goalie of the tournament one year? That turned out pretty well for us right?

*remembers game 1 of the Cup Finals '06 and hates MacT even more for not dressing Maarkanen*

Avatar
#28 Rick
May 12 2009, 04:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

It's off topic but since we haven't had a "who's the next coach" blog for a few days, I figure what the hell.

With the Canucks annual disappearing act in the playoffs once again coming to fruition last night, will this result in a firing out on the wet coast and take Arniel off the market for the Oilers or complicate things with other potential candidates?

Avatar
#29 Cam
May 12 2009, 04:21PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Rick wrote:

I didn’t catch much of the WHC so this is a question those that saw him play. Was his tournament really all that impressive? He beat up on a crappy team with a 5 point first game then ended up with only 5 pts in the last 8 games against the real teams. It’s not exactly the type of splits that leap to mind when a player is happy he finished at a pt/game.

Better than Horcoff's 2 pts...

Avatar
#30 olderthendirt
May 12 2009, 04:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

While his stock is high make him part of a package for a big forward. Maybe we caqn unload Schremp at the same time.

Avatar
#31 Archaeologuy
May 12 2009, 06:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ olderthendirt: Who did you have in mind? Because I doubt the Oilers would be too eager to get rid of such a promising prospect.

Avatar
#32 RossCreek
May 12 2009, 08:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

If Vancouver does fire Alain Vigneault, whether Scott Arneil replaces him or not,would Vigneault then become a candidate in Edmonton?

Avatar
#33 Phil
May 12 2009, 09:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Archaeologuy wrote:

Tom wrote: WOW a non-statistical opinion from J. Willis. It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that Willis ONLY uses stats to form opinions.

Well, to be fair, 95% of the time, that's the case.

Avatar
#34 Archaeologuy
May 12 2009, 09:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Phil: dont start using statistics to back your argument now.

Avatar
#35 Phil
May 12 2009, 09:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Haha, I didn't even do that on purpose. Funny.

Avatar
#36 Jonathan Willis
May 12 2009, 09:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Phil wrote:

Well, to be fair, 95% of the time, that’s the case.

I use my eyes whenever possible while forming opinions.

Since I'm not an NHL scout, I use the stats to back it up; Scotty Bowman can tell you that he thinks Player X is great, but if I tell you Player X is great, so what?

Avatar
#37 Chris
May 12 2009, 10:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Jonathan Willis wrote:

Since I’m not an NHL scout, I use the stats to back it up; Scotty Bowman can tell you that he thinks Player X is great, but if I tell you Player X is great, so what?

Doesn't stop me.

Avatar
#38 Brian O'Neill
May 12 2009, 11:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I must say Linus is a badass name. Almost sounds like Leonidus

Avatar
#39 Travis Dakin
May 13 2009, 01:36AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Jonathan Willis wrote:

but if I tell you Player X is great, so what?

Then it is so.

Avatar
#40 Travis Dakin
May 13 2009, 01:37AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Brian O'Neill wrote:

I must say Linus is a badass name. Almost sounds like Leonidus

In print it looks badass.... when spoken, Leeeenus sounds rather silly.

Avatar
#41 alphah
May 13 2009, 01:44AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

shades of peanuts would be the more obvious ambiguity, no?

There were a couple of whole games of Omark available on you tube not that long ago and I watched em. If the Oilers scouts would have got off their lazy asses and clicked on the ole youtube they would have had a better idea of how gritty Omark is. Unfortunately they might as well be tucked away on a beach at some resort like our previous scouting staff because they are still getting surprised by players in our own system. Imagine how little they must know about other players and prospects?

Avatar
#42 Archaeologuy
May 13 2009, 08:16AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Brian O'Neill wrote:

I must say Linus is a badass name. Almost sounds like Leonidus

I think he should definitely change his name to Leonidos so that whenever he scored they could play clips from 300 in RX1. If he were a goalie he could paint his helmet to look like a battle scene from Thermopylae, but alas I can only dream.

Avatar
#43 Tryggve
May 13 2009, 11:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Omark never avoided traffic at home i SEL. He drove to the net time and time again. if he didn't end up in the corners or behind the net shaking defenders off and then finding a pass through trafic. The Oilers managment shouldn't have been surprised at all. Well, none of us who followed him every game this year were at least.

He also had played some 10-12 caps againts teams like Russia, Finland, Czech Republic and so on before the Worlds. I think his international play this season ended in 20-22 caps and about 20 points.

Comments are closed for this article.