March 11 2012 10:29AM
Linus Omark is back in the NHL and trying to establish himself as a player. Linus has some nice things but will have to overcome shortcomings (play away from the puck) and bias (Omark's size--especially on a smaller team--is a negative for many). What is Omark good at? What does he have to recommend him?
Linus Omark has some things in common with Robbie Schremp--youtube sensations and offensively driven talents both. However, Omark's resume has a few bullet points Hockey Jesus lacked and NHL teams can use. During his rookie season, we were able to see Omark show us
- Solid scoring at even strength--his 5x5/60 number ranked 4th on last year's Oilers (1.76)
- He could make hay against soft opposition with lower end linemates and generous zone starts.
That has value, especially on a team like the Oilers--a team with enough skill to ice two skill lines when everyone's healthy but not enough depth to keep it going. This season, Omark started well enough, and the team started extremely well, but he was sent down because the team had waiver options on him and then he got hurt and the heart of the season drifted by in the wink of an eye.
At no time during his injury time (or his games in OKC after coming back) did we hear anything from the organization that implied he was definitely part of the solution. That's a tell, one could argue the Oilers should wear dark glasses when discussing their European kids. Now, he's back and getting his chance to show coaching and management what he's got. In the 3 games since recall, Omark has performed thusly:
- 10:16 against SJS, 3 shots, EV scoring chances 1-2 according to Dennis King SC's
- 18:17 against MTL, 2 shots, 1 goal, EV SC's 3-8 according to Dennis Kings SC's
- 14:41 against COL, 2 shots, EV SC's 3-6 according to Dennis King SC's
In the last 2 games, Omark has been playing with Gagner and Hemsky. His SC total in three games since the callup is 7-15 and he's currently on one of the lines that should be making hay. Still, small sample sizes and all that jazz.
WILL HE BE AN OILER NEXT SEASON?
Under the Steve Tambellini regime, some very productive NHL players have exited (Brodziak the prime example) and Omark is a prime candidate to be in a strange town in the fall. Why? Although Omark has all kinds of skills that we didn't see with Schremp or Robert Nilsson (he's effective cycling the puck and can win battles despite lack of size; he has shown an ability to produce against the soft parade; he has speed and has shown chemistry with players like Paajarvi) the Oilers are running these kids through the chute 6 at a time and there's very little time to show your stuff.
Omark is actually one of the lucky ones in that he got a nice long look in 10-11.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
When Edmonton signed Ryan Jones and Ben Eager in the summer, it pushed back men like Omark and Hartikainen. The summer moves haven't resulted in any kind of movement in the standings, but the Oilers worship at the feet of the waiver wire and so Omark and Hartikainen once again are waiting in line.
I suspect the wait ends for Omark in the summer. I also believe an NHL team will take a chance on him, either in the fall or after another season for Omark in Europe. Omark's skills are clearly NHL calibre, he showed that a year ago when delivering offense with limited partners.
- Linus Omark 1.78
- Ryan Jones 1.38
- Magnus Paajarvi 1.36
- Liam Reddox 1.09
- Zack Stortini 1.07
- JF Jacques 0.85
- Steve MacIntrye 0.50
- Colin Fraser 0.48
The Oilers gave the bottom 6 winger jobs in 11-12 to Eager, Jones, Petrell and Hordichuk. Omark and Hartikainen were down in the tube station at midnight. I suspect Omark's Oiler career died there.