November 01 2011 07:01AM
There is a growing market for inexpensive forwards who can help move the needle offensively. Detroit, Carolina and possibly Boston, with the list growing daily. Throughout the NHL, the word is out: the goalies are ahead of the snipers and teams are looking for solutions. One of those possible solutions is available via Edmonton.
During the RE series this past summer, I detailed why Linus Omark is a player of interest:
- By eye and by math he appears to be a real hockey player. A guy like Nilsson looked all world with the puck one minute and then disappeared for the rest of the game. Omark flies sorties every shift. They don't work out all of the time, but there's a tremendous amount of try. He's hard on the puck and works like a bugger. He can stickhandle in a phone booth and can beat people wide and inside. On a team with crazy skill, Omark is his own unique individual. He's his own man, very confident and skilled.
In checking last season's Oiler forwards (not exactly the '75 Habs, but they had talent), Omark scored well in an important discipline:
5x5/60 (behind the net) 10-11
- Ales Hemsky 2.88
- Sam Gagner 1.91
- Jordan Eberle 1.79
- Linus Omark 1.78
- Taylor Hall 1.78
- Shawn Horcoff 1.47
- Ryan Jones 1.38
- Magnus Paajarvi 1.36
- Andrew Cogliano 1.33
So far this season, Omark and several others can't get the ball out of the infield (Gagner, Paajarvi are also at nil 5x5). In yesterday's ask Matty, Jim Matheson wrote the following:
- I don’t think it’s fair to write off Omark, who hasn’t done anything wrong but keeps sitting because of numbers. When Hemsky returns in a week, the Oilers will have to do something with the right-winger Omark, who has National Hockey League skill. Unless I’m reading the collective bargaining agreement incorrectly, if Omark plays 60 NHL games, he has to clear waivers to be sent to the Oklahoma City Barons. He’s was too good for the AHL last season. If they’re caring, they’ll deal him somewhere else. The Carolina Hurricanes are looking for forwards.
Matheson mentions Carolina, but there are several (Boston, Detroit, Winnipeg, etc) NHL teams looking for quality offense. Many of those clubs are cap teams, so will be scouting quality offensive players with low cap hits. Omark is making $875,000, a very reasonable contract. The Oilers don't have a lot of room to make moves with this player, he can opt out and back to Sweden should they try to send him down (he could also accept a demotion).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
My opinion? Omark is perfect Hemsky insurance and the Oilers should find a way to get him back into the lineup. I understand staying the course when the team is winning, and also understand Ales Hemsky is back soon and that will mean someone coming out of the linup--a lineup that already excludes Omark.
If enough wingers have passed Omark on the depth chart, then dealing him is the prudent thing to do; he's not going to sign here to be a HS for the NHL team next year. So, with free agency ahead, what do the Oilers do? I would hope they resolve the Hemsky situation one way or another before the deadline and then trade or elevate Omark based on the Hemsky conclusion.
I don't think Omark makes it to the deadline. Some NHL team is going to acquire a player with impressive skills and a burr under his saddle. He does have some work to do, but I can see a team like Detroit teaching him the things required to stay in the lineup.
I don't think Steve Tambellini gets 100 cents on the dollar. Linus Omark is far more valuable than his original draft number.