Making A Decision On Linus Omark

Jonathan Willis
February 29 2012 12:25PM

The Oilers have now passed the trade deadline, are well out of the playoffs, and the final 20 games of the season (starting tonight) don’t really have a lot of meaning at the team level. They’re likely to get a high draft pick, but outside of that the games left are pretty much meaningless from a team perspective.

On the individual level, things are different. Aside from the guys definitely in the plans, and the guys definitely out of them, there are a range of players either hoping to return to the team or land an NHL job elsewhere. It’s a time that can be used to make decisions on a range of players. One of those players should be Linus Omark.

Linus Omark is 25 years old, and in his seventh professional season. He’s also a restricted free agent at season’s end, which may not mean a lot for the typical North American player (since they’re likely to return on a two-way contract if that’s what it takes), but certainly does have meaning for Omark. Omark can make serious money in a place like the KHL – he already has, for one season – and the option of a guaranteed job in Europe for top dollar is bound to have appeal when compared to another two-way contract.

For the Oilers, there’s another issue. Edmonton is loaded to the gills with good young forwards, and while one or more may eventually be moved for defensive help, at the moment the prospects of guys on the outside – Omark especially, though one could also make a case for Magnus Paajarvi – is open to debate.

In short, this summer represents something of a crossroads, for both the player and the organization. Does Omark fit into the long-term plans?

Now would probably be a good time to find out. Omark’s been injured for much of the season, but he’s knocking at the door now. He’s been shooting more since coming back from injury (in the seven games prior to getting hurt in the AHL he had 10 shots; in the eight games since he has 22), and is averaging a goal every second game in the minors. He also earned praise from the organization for his work in the gym while injured, something Senior Director of Player Development Billy Moores told Bruce McCurdy:

He’s worked very hard during that injury time to get himself in real good condition and get stronger, so that’s real valuable. Credit to him for using that time properly. Now he’s got an opportunity to play with us tonight and in Abbotsford and get going. There’s still lots of hockey to be played.”

While everyone in the organization undoubtedly wants to see the farm team do well for the rest of the year, now seems like an optimum time to give Omark a chance on a skilled line. In the best-case scenario, he does very well, either giving the Oilers the necessary incentive to offer him a one-way deal this summer, or boosting his stock enough to make him worth trading at the NHL Draft. In the worst case scenario, he drops off the map, and the Oilers can feel more comfortable about writing him out of the long-term picture.

Either way, the team should try and get an answer with the time that’s left in the season. We know that Omark’s a very good player below the NHL; he’s shown that time and again. For a player with his age and experience, all that remains to be seen is whether he’s a fit in the majors, and that question will only be answered with major-league experience. Unless the Oilers have already made a decision, now’s the time to find out.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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 Eulers
February 29 2012, 12:30PM
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I've doubled down! The coveted DOUBLE FIST, both consecutive articles and in one day. FIST movement rejoice!

@Jonathan:

Correction: the time is not now but after I see the Barons play the Wolves here in Chicago on Sunday. Then, you can have Omark, by all means.

Does similar logic apply for Teddy Peckman? In particular, we should play him over Sutton (for instance) to see if he can get it his season back on track? Does he face wavers if he is sent down next year?

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#2 Spydyr
February 29 2012, 12:46PM
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Could no agree more.Play him with skill.See what he has got.Bringing him up to play with Balanger or Horcoff makes no sense.

Give him a shot to sink or swim with the best the team has to offer.

What is the worse thing that can happen ? Lose a game or two and fall closer to the second overall pick.

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#3 freeze
February 29 2012, 12:49PM
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Haha, the thought of Tambo making a decision is comical to me.

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#4 Thombot
February 29 2012, 01:01PM
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Having Omark in OKC is going to aid Paajarvi's and Landers development by playing with skill while playing big minutes.

Playing big minutes with projected checkers isn't as beneficial to their development.

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#5 geoilersgist
February 29 2012, 01:01PM
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I hope MPS, Lander and Omark tear it up and help the Barons win the Calder Cup.

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Hasn't Peckham had enough time to try to come around?

And I'd love to see Omark come back up to prove naysayers wrong.

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#7 A-Mc
February 29 2012, 01:05PM
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Tre Kronor, 12-13 Edmonton Oiler Third Scoring line!!

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#8 1983 and This Year
February 29 2012, 01:10PM
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It feels like our top 5 forwards are set for the next 2 years with Nuge, Hall, Ebs, Gags and Hemsky. The remaining spot would go to MPS over Omark, with other AHL prospects also coming up. Omark isn't wired to be a 3rd/4th line guy. So what's to debate?

Package him up with Jones, a prospect, and our 1st rounder in this year's draft and go get a top 5 goalie.

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#9 Great ones
February 29 2012, 01:13PM
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The questions around Omark need to be answered. The question is will ST and others get on with answering them?

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#10 dylanl@ualberta.ca
February 29 2012, 01:24PM
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@1983 and This Year

Your crazy to send away that much talent for a goalie that a team is willing to move.

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#11 Stack Pad Save
February 29 2012, 01:26PM
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I think Omark is going at the Draft for another pick in the first round ... it all depends on whether or not we get Gregorenko and try to get another first rounder for a defencemen.

If I was Tambo and I got my hands on Gregorenko, I would package my second round pick, Ganger, Omark and Peckham for another top first round pick to try and get Griffen Reinhart!

It sucks being a fan that looks forward to the draft ... I cant wait to look forward to playoffs

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#12 Pajamah
February 29 2012, 01:27PM
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1983 and This Year wrote:

It feels like our top 5 forwards are set for the next 2 years with Nuge, Hall, Ebs, Gags and Hemsky. The remaining spot would go to MPS over Omark, with other AHL prospects also coming up. Omark isn't wired to be a 3rd/4th line guy. So what's to debate?

Package him up with Jones, a prospect, and our 1st rounder in this year's draft and go get a top 5 goalie.

Better yet, don't give up the prospect or 1st rounder, and go after a goalie who is "bubbling under" as it were

Anders Lindback, Josh Harding, Jacob Markstrom , etc.

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#13 Truth
February 29 2012, 01:30PM
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@1983 and This Year

That seems like an overpayment to me.

It is unfortunate that Omark was injured for most of the year, especially in the time before the trade deadline. It would have been nice for him to light it up and gain some actual trade value. I imagine his trade value now is way under his retention value (if that's a term).

What is he anyway? a skinny Kyle Wellwood? a poor man's Hemsky?

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#14 Archaeologuy
February 29 2012, 01:31PM
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I've already made a decision on Goatmark.

He's a tweener. Too good for the AHL, not good enough to make a big impact on the NHL.

Just good enough to get a GM in trouble for wasting money on a contract for a player who cant properly fill a role but seems like he can.

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#15 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 29 2012, 01:41PM
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Send him to the SEL where he belongs

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#16 Dog Train
February 29 2012, 01:43PM
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I would go with the all-Swede line for the weekend and then if Omark plays well, call him up for the rest of the season. He never really got the chance to play with some of our more skilled players this season. I would probably offer him a one-way deal for next season and agree that if we can't fit him into our lineup consistently that we would move him.

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#17 1983 and This Year
February 29 2012, 02:07PM
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dylanl@ualberta.ca wrote:

Your crazy to send away that much talent for a goalie that a team is willing to move.

Overpaying a team is the way you convince them to move a goalie they don't want to move.

Many people tend to overvalue our spare parts buying power and what they will bring back from the other team. I don't mind being thought of as the guy who undervalues our talent. At least in my scenario we move forward as a team looking to compete NOW instead of waiting 3 years to see how that defenceman we drafted turned out.

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#18 Dan the Man
February 29 2012, 02:15PM
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I'd like to see Omark take Smyth's spot on the 2nd line for a while. Smyth can move to the 3rd, Eager can move to the 4th line and Hordichuck can move to the press box.

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#19 oilbaron
February 29 2012, 02:20PM
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package him at the draft for another first round pick, we have no room for him in the top 6 and with how tom renney coach's. Draft the best possible d-man available (Murray/Dumba) and with the pick that is exchanged for omark++ draft Galchenyuk. STAY AWAY FROM THE RUSSIAN!!!!

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#20 D-Man
February 29 2012, 02:41PM
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To me, the jury is still out on Omark... If (and that's a big If) he dominates at the AHL with Lander and MPS, then sign him to a two-way deal.. We still need depth in our top six and having an Omark on the farm wouldn't hurt. He hasn't looked out of place when in an offensive role with the big club; but with the likes of Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Hemsky and Gagner - there isn't room for another small forward (especially if he doesn't produce)...

I'd like to package him for another first round draft pick - but considering Omark's production in the NHL - you'd be lucky to get a 2nd round pick for him...

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#21 Oilcan
February 29 2012, 02:50PM
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1983 and This Year wrote:

Overpaying a team is the way you convince them to move a goalie they don't want to move.

Many people tend to overvalue our spare parts buying power and what they will bring back from the other team. I don't mind being thought of as the guy who undervalues our talent. At least in my scenario we move forward as a team looking to compete NOW instead of waiting 3 years to see how that defenceman we drafted turned out.

No offence but I think YOU overvalue our spare parts...what team would want the spare parts of a team that finished last two years in a row and second last this year???

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#22 1983 and This Year
February 29 2012, 03:39PM
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Oilcan wrote:

No offence but I think YOU overvalue our spare parts...what team would want the spare parts of a team that finished last two years in a row and second last this year???

I don't consider Jones and Omark to be spare parts that don't belong in the NHL. They're parts that don't fit in the makeup of our particular team. We have crafty forwards in spades. Omark can play in the NHL, and GMs will recognize that, we just don't have the space to make that a reality here.

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#23 Oiler AL
February 29 2012, 03:39PM
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Hasnt had a fair shot with the big club, but honestly do you need yet another smallish player in the line. The one thing that Oilers are in need of is grit and size up front. [ look what Canucks did,, they move a Hodgson for Kassian to get size and grit ]. Tambilni needs to create a pkg, and try and get a roster player in the off season.., with skill and size.

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#24 Billy Shears
February 29 2012, 04:28PM
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Couldn't disagree more with your assertion that the last 20 games are meaningless as a team perspective. If the team can string some wins together and beat some playoff teams and be .500 or close to it is much more important than getting that 1st overall pick. Playing meaningful games and not maintaining a losing attitude is very key to the development of the young guns. As far as Linus goes I couldn't agree more with you. He needs time in the big league if he is ever going to be considered a ldgitimate NHL player and an asset to the organization.

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#25 russ99
February 29 2012, 05:12PM
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Heading for a bottom 3 (or bottom 2) finish is no excuse to waste assets in the AHL and play the likes of Eager and Hordichuk over them in meaningless games.

I hope that OKC has the Swede line together until Monday, which is AHL clear day - so they can get valuable experience in the AHL playoffs.

Then bring all three up on Tuesday and play them as the third line the rest of the way in Edmonton.

It's a ridiculous waste of resources to not play these guys and not get a good read on them before their ELC's are over. Paajarvi has another year and Lander 2.

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#26 Slats
February 29 2012, 05:15PM
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Play him and let's have some 9-7 games to finish the season!!!

That display of offence will get them on every TSN POD and SN headline story.

Then evaluate the trades.

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#27 Rama Lama
February 29 2012, 05:17PM
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We need to accumulate more small, highly skilled forwards for the upcoming draft.

According to Tamby he has a plan.......only problem is he is the only one who knows about his plan. We can all speculate..... but he has a plan! Trust his plan because he surely has one.

He is going to trade all of his small players for one giant player. Yea I let the cat out of the bag......sorry Tamby!

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#28 russ99
February 29 2012, 05:20PM
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To illustrate the lack of a fair shot Omark has gotten, both Omark and Gagner were drafted in 2007.

Gagner has played in 346 NHL games, Omark 56. Even if you discount the year in the SEL after the draft and the KHL year, that's still way behind.

What makes it worse is that those are during rebuilding seasons where such players should be getting plenty of playing time to show what they can do.

Makes me wonder - if Kruger were the coach, would Omark have gotten that chance?

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#29 Robin Brownlee
February 29 2012, 06:10PM
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@russ99

Before you trot out the conpiracy theory, Omark played TWO FULL seasons in the SEL and another in the KHL after the 2007 Entry Draft, so you might want to adjust your numbers.

A lot of European players taken in later rounds opt to stay home rather than play for AHL money if they aren't guaranteed an NHL roster spot and the Oilers weren't ready to guarantee that spot to a fourth-round pick -- nor should they have.

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#30 Romulus' Apotheosis
February 29 2012, 06:23PM
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Ok... let's give him a shot. With Lander and MPS down there is room. You'd have to play him top-6 though and fiddle with the last two lines to make it work.

The bigger issue is still going to be his waiver situation. If he plays more than 4 you are committed to more than you want... then again the season is a bust and there are only so many games left and a decision needs to be made one way or the other... might as well play him and gather more information.

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#31 David S
February 29 2012, 06:35PM
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Eulers wrote:

I've doubled down! The coveted DOUBLE FIST, both consecutive articles and in one day. FIST movement rejoice!

@Jonathan:

Correction: the time is not now but after I see the Barons play the Wolves here in Chicago on Sunday. Then, you can have Omark, by all means.

Does similar logic apply for Teddy Peckman? In particular, we should play him over Sutton (for instance) to see if he can get it his season back on track? Does he face wavers if he is sent down next year?

It's that damn Eulers. He's so hot right now!

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#32 Saytalk
February 29 2012, 07:20PM
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Trade him. This organization is well-stocked with finesse perimeter players, but clearly lacking in power forwards and gritty checkers. I'm tired of watching how easy it is for other teams to walk all over the Oilers, offensively and defensively.

If Hodgson can get traded for Kassian, then what would trading Omark fetch us this summer?

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#33 Robin Brownlee
February 29 2012, 10:45PM
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@Saytalk

A lot less than Hodgson got the Canucks.

There's really no comparison between a 10th overall pick who just turned 22 like Hodgson and a fourth-rounder who is 25 like Omark.

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#34 Wäx Män Riley
March 01 2012, 02:00AM
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Dan the Man wrote:

I'd like to see Omark take Smyth's spot on the 2nd line for a while. Smyth can move to the 3rd, Eager can move to the 4th line and Hordichuck can move to the press box.

I'd like to see Omark get some top 6 time again. Even if it is just for a couple of games.

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#35 Ed in Mada
March 01 2012, 02:35AM
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I don't see the Oil or anyone else giving Omark a one way contract. Most likley back in the KHL next year. We should not consider Omark as a significant asset, just a U-tube sensation.

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#36 Oilcruzer
March 01 2012, 04:56AM
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Goalie stuff A goalie has to make the first save. The second was the perfect shot and no goalie should be expected to make that save.

Schultz is a keeper. Smart with anticipation and angles.

That game was not indicative of the score. Chances needed to be buried and two goals needed to be buried and goal 2 and 5 shoulda been saved. Danis isn't the answer.

Homage to Schultz is over. Time to change the avatar again.

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#37 Caligula
March 01 2012, 05:00AM
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We must play him up to see what we got! The problem is his waiver situation, a bubble boy who we cant send up/down and losing him for nothing.

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#38 Oilcruzer
March 01 2012, 05:23AM
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13,100 fans in Charlotte in game against OKC.

Wow.

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#39 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
March 01 2012, 08:11AM
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ineptflux - Team Trade WanyeGretz For Oodle Noodle Instore Credit wrote:

Hasn't Peckham had enough time to try to come around?

And I'd love to see Omark come back up to prove naysayers wrong.

That was what we all said about Smid and Gibby at about this point in their development. Even Barker could come around yet. The tools are there but bonehead decisions and lack of confidence are killing him. Schultz might be what some of these guys need. Time will tell be patient.

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#40 Dodd
March 01 2012, 09:20AM
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Speaking of how we use players - I'm not sure anyone can give me proper reasons why Barker (no future with us) is playing so many minutes while Peckham (had a tough season, needs to work through some things, good chance he's an Oiler next year) is in the press box?

How does that help develop anyone? How is Barker playing in the team's best interest??

Let Omark fail or succeed with the big club for the last stretch, I say.

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#41 russ99
March 01 2012, 09:38AM
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Ed in Mada wrote:

I don't see the Oil or anyone else giving Omark a one way contract. Most likley back in the KHL next year. We should not consider Omark as a significant asset, just a U-tube sensation.

30 NHL teams are looking for offensively gifted players. If the Oilers don't have a use for Omark then someone else will.

Even Schremp got another shot in the NHL, and Omark is twice the player in effort, stickhandling, passing and board play.

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#42 rickithebear
March 01 2012, 03:35PM
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Russ99: hopfully not VCR on the right side of the sedins.

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