It's Past Time to Recall Linus Omark

Jonathan Willis
November 03 2013 07:59PM

There is a one-line argument against recalling Linus Omark. It goes like this: he’s a small winger whose primary ability lies in the offensive zone, and the Oilers are a team in need of big wingers who play a solid defensive game.

It doesn’t matter. It’s past time to bring him up.

The Left Wing Depth Chart

Let’s have a gander at the Oilers’ left wing depth chart from last night’s 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

On the top line we have Ryan Jones. Jones is an NHL everyman – he can score a bit, hit a bit, kill penalties, and while he isn’t big he isn’t small either. He’s a very good fourth-liner, by which I mean he’s the kind of player who excels in a fourth line role and can step into the top-nine once injuries start hitting.

Nail Yakupov, a natural right wing, played on the second line with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky. I like Yakupov a lot as a player, and despite a slow start I’m not particularly worried that he’s the next Patrik Stefan. Initially, I thought playing him at left wing made a lot of sense – he’s a left-handed shot after all, and the team had and has a need at the position. These days, I subscribe to the idea that the best place for Yakupov to find his game is where he’s found it in the past and where he feels most comfortable: on right wing. I also subscribe to the notion that the Oilers need a productive Yakupov at right wing more than they need an unproductive Yakupov at left wing.

A 28-year-old minor-league journeyman fresh off injury filled the third line left wing spot last night. I know that Ryan Hamilton has a history with Dallas Eakins, and more importantly still I know he’s 6’2” tall and weighs 219 pounds. Those virtues do not suffice to explain why a guy with no history of being an NHL player and coming off a long time on injured reserve to boot is getting a top-nine job.

Finally, fourth on the left wing depth chart is Luke Gazdic. The Oilers get out-shot by a ridiculous rate with Gazdic on the ice; but fortunately for him his plus/minus doesn’t reflect that reality because the goalies have turned aside all 37 shots they’ve seen with him on the ice. That doesn’t change the fact that Gazdic is on the ice to hit and to fight rather than because of his ability to score or prevent goals. The argument about whether that sort of role player is an effective part of an NHL team is for another day; suffice to say for now that he isn’t a credible option above line four.

Meanwhile, in the minors

I understand that Linus Omark is a flawed player. I get why, on a healthy Oilers roster, he isn’t a fit – and by that I mean not only do I grasp the argument, I agree with it.

But when the situation changes, things must be reassessed. We have already seen the most cogent argument in favour of Omark right now – the Oilers’ emaciated left wing group. But there’s more. Omark currently leads the Barons with 12 points in 12 games, and he’s producing under some difficult circumstances.

Last night, for example, Omark played on Oklahoma’s top line with C.J. Stretch (an ECHL find last year) and first-year professional Andrew Miller. He typically played against either one or the other of the Chicago Wolves top-two lines – both of which were loaded to the gills with players with NHL experience. The Barons got scoring from all over, but won the game mostly because Omark was able to drive his line to 20-7 shots/missed shots advantage at even-strength.

Omark’s own scoring has been hit-and-miss – a four-point game here, a four-goal game there – but the constant is that his line has generated scoring chances.

Omark is not going to play the heavy game the Oilers would love to see from their next call-up, but then Luke Gazdic and Ben Eager (or, for that matter, Kale Kessy) will and arguing for anyone in that group to get a promotion is crazy. Overall play counts for something, too, and it’s something the Oilers have lacked that Omark can give them.

What I’d “Like” To See

It seems obvious that the Oilers’ forward lineup is going to be a mess until such time as the injury brigade gets back. Taylor Hall and David Perron and Ryan Smyth, not Linus Omark, are the solution to the Oilers’ left wing problems. Until those players return, the Oilers’ lines are going to be ugly.

In the meantime, though, I think the best deployment of personnel probably looks something like this (ordered by quality of competition):

1. Ales Hemsky – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle. The Oilers don’t really have a power-vs.-power line; Taylor Hall or David Perron is needed to give them one. Of the bad available choices, though, Ales Hemsky seems like the best fit. He’s had the power-vs.-power job before, he’s a veteran guy, and he actually looked pretty good when Tom Renney spotted him here back in 2011-12.

2. Ryan Jones – Boyd Gordon – Mark Arcobello. The Oilers’ don’t really have the pieces for a strong defensive “third” line either. Gordon is a fit as that line’s centre, Arcobello gives the line a second faceoff man, and while Jones isn’t an ideal fit he’s been okay in previous incarnations of this line (the Smyth – Horcoff – Jones trio doing a nice job at points).

3. Linus Omark – Sam Gagner – Nail Yakupov. I know. This is an all-offence line, geared toward offensive zone starts and deployed against the other team’s bottom-six. It gives Yakupov a chance to play offensive minutes at his natural position, Gagner a chance to ease back into the lineup and both of them a third player in Omark who can help drive offensive results.

The comments section may disagree, and honestly I’m not wild about it myself: there’s no combination of forwards that I particularly like right now for the Oilers. But what I do think is that regardless of how the lines are arranged, Linus Omark stands a better chance of getting the job done in the top nine than a couple of players the Oilers currently have there and a far better chance than any of the potential fourth-line promotions.

Even if it’s something as simple as sticking Omark in the Jones’ slot on the top line, bumping Jones down to the Gordon line and sending Hamilton to Oklahoma on a conditioning stint, I think the Oilers are better off with the guy who is driving results in Oklahoma than they are with the current crop of candidates.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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 Yeah For Sure
November 03 2013, 09:42PM
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David S wrote:

Linus Omark – Sam Gagner – Nail Yakupov

*Suddenly feels gonch tightening*

You can never have too many SOFT MIDGET FaIRY DAFODILS in your lineup right??? I stood next to Lander and Omark at a pre-season game, it was like standing next to two little grade sixes at recess! NO MORE MIDGETS PLEASE!!!

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#2 Jordan1126
November 03 2013, 08:30PM
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@Fisher

It's too bad he doesn't have top six size or bottom six grit. Just like the majority of our players. Nobody is going to give up a solid 1-2 D man for Linus plus. There is no market for this kid. He can't even crack our ahl version of the oilers. Who would want him

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#3 DSF
November 03 2013, 09:29PM
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Clayton Abernathy wrote:

Have things gone that bad for Oiler fans that they actually think Linus Omark is the team saviour? WOW.

Yes.

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#4 Quicksilver ballet
November 03 2013, 08:54PM
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1 or 2 pts on this next trip should keep 30th within striking distance.

Short term pain, long term gain. Stay the course!

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#5 DSF
November 03 2013, 09:19PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Isn't he more likely to be upset that Linus Omark is back in his nice, respectful league?

I'm sure he'll show his displeasure by pumping 2 or 3 goals against that line.

You pegged them as a 3rd line but remember who gets last change on the road.

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#6 DSF
November 03 2013, 08:47PM
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David S wrote:

Linus Omark – Sam Gagner – Nail Yakupov

*Suddenly feels gonch tightening*

Stamkos is already smiling.

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#7 StHenriOilBomb
November 04 2013, 07:51AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Ales Hemsky – small , skill player

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – small , skill player

Jordan Eberle – small , skill player

Mark Arcobello – small , skill player

Linus Omark – small , skill player

Sam Gagner – small , skill player

Nail Yakupov – small , skill player

Do you see a pattern here. I certainly do, it adds up to eight straight years out of the playoffs.

Why can't "the braintrust"?

WOAH... hold on a moment... you're blowing my mind. I never realized this before.

Thanks for the insight.

This is why people don't like your comments - stating the obvious.

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#8 Clayton Abernathy
November 03 2013, 09:28PM
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Have things gone that bad for Oiler fans that they actually think Linus Omark is the team saviour? WOW.

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#9 Rheal1
November 04 2013, 04:49AM
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It is beyond time to hit that proverbial panic button. First step is to dismiss Kevin Lowe. Second step is to shake up the roster. Deal one of the kids & a 2nd rounder for immediate help, which means a goalie; Ryan Miller and a Buffalo top 2 Dman. Next trade the 1st round draft pick for immediate help, namely another top 2 Dman. Get an enforcer to protect the kids for some prospect that is in OKC (Cheechoo?). Change the approach of Eakins for @#$sakes! We need immediate results now. Oilers are no longer in a rebuild!!!

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#10 Spydyr
November 04 2013, 06:58AM
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Ales Hemsky – small , skill player

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – small , skill player

Jordan Eberle – small , skill player

Mark Arcobello – small , skill player

Linus Omark – small , skill player

Sam Gagner – small , skill player

Nail Yakupov – small , skill player

Do you see a pattern here. I certainly do, it adds up to eight straight years out of the playoffs.

Why can't "the braintrust"?

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#11 R U Kidding Me!
November 03 2013, 08:17PM
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Linus Omark, our savior!

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#12 Quicksilver ballet
November 03 2013, 10:01PM
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Calgary Flames- 3rd lowest payroll in the league. Over 12 million in cap space.

Colorado Avalanche- 2nd lowest payroll in the league and 12.5 in cap space remaining.

....and just like animal livestock, carrots are murdered (forcibly removed from their cozy living environment) so they can be processed and consumed by humans and some horses.

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#13 derrickhands
November 03 2013, 10:45PM
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I've missed watching one game and Omark is playing as a individual, that tends to hold on to the puck way too long. He's the last thing the Oilers need, they have to many puck hogs as it is. I notice you failed to mention the Friday game against the Chicago Wolfs where he was shutout and was almost non existent. You never know when Omark will show up to play and you want him to be recalled.

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#14 jack
November 03 2013, 10:48PM
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you must be kidding, omark is like minus 50 on the barons, worst idea of all time, so what if he has 10 goals, hes been on for like 60 or whatever

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#15 Oiler Al
November 04 2013, 04:52AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Man, look at the list of players that congratulate him after that goal:

  • Jean-Francois Jacques
  • Magnus Paajarvi
  • Ryan O'Marra
  • Gilbert Brule
  • Nikolai Khabibulin
  • Ryan Whitney
  • Theo Peckham

Get these guys back in to Oilers jerseys, cant do much worse that whats happening right now!

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#16 Loweblows
November 04 2013, 07:11AM
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Longtime, diehard fan here but is obvious KLowe has a job for life. In my twisted masochistic mind Knowing the season is lost the only joy I will get now is watching the Oilers get hammered into the ice evry night. Honestly I hope they lose every game. I dont care about this team anymore.

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#17 Oilcan
November 03 2013, 08:18PM
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Would rather see: gagner-RNH-eberle, jones-Gordan-hemsky, omark-arco-yakupov

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#18 David Staples
November 03 2013, 08:23PM
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How about Arcobello at centre, Gagner on the wing, at least until Gagner has enough wind to actually, you know, backcheck?

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#19 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
November 03 2013, 08:47PM
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I think the team has quit on the Coach. When the head coach doesn't even bother to go on the ice during practise to get a face to face experience with his team?? This I don't understand.

Shut out two straight and you have Ryan Jones playing top six minutes when you could insert Omark and he'll work his bag off and chip in on the score sheet. A no brainer.

Also an observation that bugs the hell out of me. When I played the game I was taught at a young age to keep the stick on the ice at all times. When Yakapov doesn't have to puck his stick is always up by his hip?? Big time grinds my gears when even in the NHL the fundamentals still need to be taught to 1st overall picks

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#20 Rob Gilgan
November 03 2013, 10:08PM
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Linus Omark is a wizard. Building a team ‘the NHL way’ doesn’t seem to be producing the desired result. Let him go dazzle and inspire. Can’t hurt at this point - and I’ll actually watch a game if he’s in the lineup. And after last night, that’s not something that’s likely to happen very often.

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#22 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 04 2013, 08:22AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Also, out of curiosity again, is it this pattern:

  • Pavel Datsyuk - small, skill player
  • Henrik Zetterberg - small, skill player
  • Daniel Alfredsson - small, skill player
  • Daniel Cleary - small, skill player
  • Tomas Tatar - small, skill player
  • Stephen Weiss - small, skill player
  • Gustav Nyquist - small, skill player

Now, before we get into the 'Jonathan, you fanboy, Zetterberg's way better than Eberle!' comments, let me say this: I'm not saying Edmonton's guys are as good as Detroit's, and I'm not ignoring the Franzens and Bertuzzis in Detroit's lineup.

What I am saying is that harping on a team for having good players who happen to be little is kind of stupid.

Your use of "kind of" is far too generous.

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#23 Stack Pad Save
November 03 2013, 08:11PM
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But Willis, your using logic to dictate your lines. You tried to remove bias from forming your decision. Expecting anyone within the Oilers organization to do the same would be ludicrous.

I am to the point where I don't care if the Oilers suck more. I think the Oilers should fail for the next 2 years and get McDavid personally. If we can watch the last 2 games, and still find time to blog about the Oilers we can stomach the wait for McDavid.

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#24 Spydyr
November 04 2013, 08:09AM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

WOAH... hold on a moment... you're blowing my mind. I never realized this before.

Thanks for the insight.

This is why people don't like your comments - stating the obvious.

Really? It is not obvious to "the braintrust".

Or are they just that bad at their jobs?

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#25 Rheal1
November 04 2013, 08:28AM
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Why cant we look to trade with the Flyers to balance our team? And the Sabers of course for Miller.

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#26 Death Metal Nightmare
November 03 2013, 08:33PM
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this organization is getting excessively annoying with how they hand out jobs and who they give opportunities.

they see mediocre players as leaders and develop hilarious biases towards players that arent that good. they throw other players under the bus.

the "wise" in their ivory tower of hockey knowledge and "experienced winning as players" really are looking like a steaming pile of feces.

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#27 canucknnv
November 03 2013, 08:51PM
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The Oilers management don't have enough karma and goodwill in their accounts to be dicks to a player just for the sake of being dicks.

If they had no intentions of using him for the last few years and especially now, release the poor kid and quit burning a contract on the 50 man for nothing.

Dicks.

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#28 Zarny
November 03 2013, 09:38PM
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Recalling Omark could be a good move.

No, he isn't the answer long term; but short term he could provide a spark and some excitement.

And whether it's this week, Christmas, the trade deadline or the draft MacT will have to execute some bold moves. That requires currency. You gotta give something to get something.

If Omark can establish himself as an NHL player you can package him in a deal or trade someone higher on the depth chart.

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#29 Andrew
November 04 2013, 06:01AM
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There seems to have come a change in the atmosphere in Oiler-ville. Omark schmo-mark.

Something is broken in Middle Earth. The real culprit here is the owner. He hires mostly buddies to run a multi-million dollar hockey business that they have neither the expertise nor the training to do. He started with keeping 'he of the SIX rings'. He started as coach and had no head coaching experience to speak of. When the shine wore off that he got bumped up to GM. IMO a firing via promotion. Again no experience at the pro level. Now he's taken arguably the second biggest chair in the organization with, wait for it ...no experience as president of hockey ops.

We wonder why the organization is busted?

Then a while back we find out the Oil mandarins have put us in classes. That's about the most brain dead thing they could have ever said. 'He of the SIX rings' will NEVER hear the end of that gem.

The unease with Katz started to get really ugly with the arena debate and that's when I started to get concerned.

The organizational arrogance starts at the top. No surprise with that one.

I know this is blasphemous but I would almost rather see the team go elsewhere to someone who has a clue and gives a crap than see this group of Oiler cronies embarrass me any further and that's the truth...

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#30 Crackenbury
November 04 2013, 07:31AM
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I've moved past the anger stage and have come back to trying to determine what's wrong. I've watched every minute of every game this season and most every season.

With the exception of the Vancouver game this team looked much better than past seasons to start the year. Out shooting, out hitting and out chancing the opposition. As much as I like Dubnyk and think he can be a good NHL goalie, it's his start to the season that tanked this team. They play in fear of getting scored on and when scored on first completely fall apart. There's no confidence in any goaltender to hold them in a game.

MacT needs to get an actual proven NHL starter in the net. One or two solid goaltending performances along with wins will do a world of good for the overall play of this team. They're just not this bad.

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#32 Spydyr
November 04 2013, 08:22AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Out of curiosity, would you prefer the team to ice a line-up entirely of guys like Jean-Francois Jacques (big, unskilled player) or is the "skill" part of your complaint redundant?

A team should be made of up all types of player. They all have different roles. This team is full of the same type of player at forward. In todays NHL size , speed and grit are needed to win. Every team has skill. The will to win and having some balls and pride would go a long way too.Perhaps standing up for your teammates and playing as a team might help also.

To answer your question the small part is redundant?

They have been and are the softest team in the NHL for far too long.Stats guys might not care but an out school fan like me certainly does.

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#33 Spydyr
November 04 2013, 09:04AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Also, out of curiosity again, is it this pattern:

  • Pavel Datsyuk - small, skill player
  • Henrik Zetterberg - small, skill player
  • Daniel Alfredsson - small, skill player
  • Daniel Cleary - small, skill player
  • Tomas Tatar - small, skill player
  • Stephen Weiss - small, skill player
  • Gustav Nyquist - small, skill player

Now, before we get into the 'Jonathan, you fanboy, Zetterberg's way better than Eberle!' comments, let me say this: I'm not saying Edmonton's guys are as good as Detroit's, and I'm not ignoring the Franzens and Bertuzzis in Detroit's lineup.

What I am saying is that harping on a team for having good players who happen to be little is kind of stupid.

OK you have it with Detroit. What about the other 28 teams .Most are built as complete teams. You know with some size and grit in their lineups.

Just to state the obvious. Edmonton is not Detroit. Not even close to the same ownership, management, coaching, scouts both pro and amateur.

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#34 Spydyr
November 04 2013, 10:36AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Good god no!

Find anyone who's said that, or put the straw man back in the closet.

Jonathan Willis

Also, out of curiosity again, is it this pattern:

Pavel Datsyuk - small, skill player Henrik Zetterberg - small, skill player Daniel Alfredsson - small, skill player Daniel Cleary - small, skill player Tomas Tatar - small, skill player Stephen Weiss - small, skill player Gustav Nyquist - small, skill player Now, before we get into the 'Jonathan, you fanboy, Zetterberg's way better than Eberle!' comments, let me say this: I'm not saying Edmonton's guys are as good as Detroit's, and I'm not ignoring the Franzens and Bertuzzis in Detroit's lineup.

What I am saying is that harping on a team for having good players who happen to be little is kind of stupid."

Pretty sure that is what Jonathan Willis is saying that above. A team of small players like the Oilers can win in the NHL. You know the comment you suggested it more more than "kind of" stupid to suggest a team with all small players cannot compete and win.

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#35 Lowetide
November 03 2013, 08:23PM
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The Omark decision is beyond curious. Excellent article, Jon.

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#36 Ari Gold
November 03 2013, 10:14PM
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Should the Oilers bring him up. Yes.

In the grand scheme of things that is this season: will it matter? No.

Does this organization deserve fans like us? No.

Linus Omark is like taking a Tums to appease your gastric tumour. You need surgery, cut the damn thing out.

Did Calgary beat the defending SC champs in Chicago? Yes.

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#37 Rheal1
November 04 2013, 04:35AM
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Another article on a roster revamp. God Awful. Whip that horse yet again. In the meanwhile, Calgary wins against a Stanley Cup champ. Quietly and without stars, the Flames are .500 and climbing that ladder. Sad sad sad... Albeit stuck with many key players that are currently injured we will see how the Oilers fare this week. I expect 3 pts out of 6. Yes I am over optimistic.

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#38 Lochenzo
November 04 2013, 09:11AM
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I think Dallas Eakins nailed it. Fear of losing is in their heads. I don't know the personalities in the locker room, but if the Oilers ever needed a locker room prankster, now is the time. Just something to loosen things up.

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#39 Spydyr
November 04 2013, 11:09AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Ah! Here's the problem.

Thanks for clarifying.

Re-read his comments, or anyone else's for that matter, and find someone saying:

"Obviously [over the last 8 years] what they have player wise is […] working."

When you come up short (you will)… you'll be left scratching your head. Keep scratching until to sort why you aren't engaging JW's actual point.

Re-Read the comments. I did engage JW's actual post. Are you always so pompous?

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#40 Spydyr
November 04 2013, 11:09AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

A team with a bunch of small players can win in the NHL. Look at Detroit. That was absolutely the point of the comment I made.

The Oilers are not that team, for reasons that go way beyond having five or six guys of below-average height.

Where you go wrong is in thinking that because the Oilers haven't won with a bunch of small players, nobody can.

One team out of thirty is an anomaly.

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#41 bulldog12
November 03 2013, 08:23PM
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Omarks down fall is his defensive game How could it possibly be any worse than the rest of these stooges Maybe Omark will show a little desperation enthusiasm heart that could rub off on the rest of them What would it hurt to give him a shot what's one more loss

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#42 Racki
November 03 2013, 08:24PM
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That line 3 will likely be good for a line change while the puck is heading towards the defensive zone. And I'm with David on the suggestion to put Arco back at C.. it was working better with him there.

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#43 Jordan1126
November 03 2013, 08:25PM
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Would rather just see EFFORT and HEART before we worry about line combos.

Without that it really doesn't matter does it. They can draw sticks for lines for all I care but until they show that they care, they won't win. Period.

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#44 Sandra
November 03 2013, 08:41PM
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David Staples wrote:

How about Arcobello at centre, Gagner on the wing, at least until Gagner has enough wind to actually, you know, backcheck?

Agreed! I question some of the decisions Eakins makes.

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#45 David S
November 03 2013, 08:42PM
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Linus Omark – Sam Gagner – Nail Yakupov

*Suddenly feels gonch tightening*

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#46 oilers1168
November 03 2013, 08:55PM
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Arco in a short time has convinced me he is a better center on a small sample so lets have him there with Yak and Linus.

Linus has matured and deserves an opportunity even if it is to show case him for a trade or a packaged trade.

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#48 Oiler Al
November 03 2013, 09:29PM
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Thinking outside the box a bit, but seeing has how the forward depth is short and depleted, Why not bring up a Dman from OKC and see how Schultz Jr. would do playing forward/. Worked for Burns in San Jose. {unless Schultz is injured still..)

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#49 72Ken
November 03 2013, 10:21PM
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For all you Omark haters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=aBdO66187Os

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#50 Naky
November 03 2013, 10:40PM
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Omark can't possibly make this team any worse than it already is right now. It's already a defensive mess to the point where comparing it to junior level is insulting junior players. To make matters worse, we can't seemingly score any more either. If there was ever a time for him to shine in a 'couldn't possibly be worse' scenario, this is definitely it.

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