Linus Omark, trade, and the NHL salary cap

Jonathan Willis
July 29 2013 10:19AM

I’ll admit it: I thought Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish was going to be able to trade Linus Omark this summer. Part of that’s probably because I have more time for Omark than others – I always enjoyed his skill, saw him as a “hard on the puck” player and felt his defensive deficiencies were blown out of proportion.

But I didn’t think Omark was going to be traded because he’s a no-brainer ‘must be in the NHL’ player. I thought Omark was going to be traded because he’s cheap.

Cap Crunch

With NHL teams allowed to spend more than $70 million in 2013, and only $64.3 million in 2013-14, it didn’t take much in the way of complex calculation to know that some teams were going to find themselves in budget trouble this off-season.

Consider the Los Angeles Kings, a team rumoured to be willing to trade Kyle Clifford because they simply don’t have the cap space. Consider Toronto, a team supposedly interested in moving Cody Franson because they’re going to have trouble signing Franson and Nazem Kadri. Even a team not supposedly looking to shed talent, the Vancouver Canucks, seems to be banking on dirt cheap NHL additions and players on entry-level deals to round out the roster.

Enter Linus

Linus Omark destroyed Switzerland’s top league both during and after the NHL lockout, scoring at a comparable rate to Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg. He’s consistently been a high-end offensive player everywhere he’s been – the AHL, Russia, Sweden – and even at the NHL level he has picked up 30 points in 65 games.

The following is what his track record looks like using Rob Vollman’s new NHL equivalencies (adjusted as they were in yesterday’s Jesse Joensuu piece). For those unfamiliar, NHL equivalencies use the track record of previous players making the jump from other leagues to the NHL to establish a performance baseline of what to expect from players in those leagues.

Aside from 2011-12 – an exceptional year in that Omark had a nasty injury and ended up playing less than 20 games in any one league – Omark’s scoring record indicates a guy who can probably pick up between 40 and 50 points in an NHL season.

My Reasoning

With the salary cap dropping and teams finding themselves in sticky cap situations, my thoughts went roughly like this:

  • Linus Omark has warts, but he’s a talented guy who seems a decent bet as an auxiliary scorer in the right situation.
  • Omark had a six-figure contract the last time around; it seems likely that an NHL team willing to offer a one-way deal could probably get him for $1.0 million or less.
  • For a team in a nasty cap situation, penciling Omark in as a top-six or top-nine forward might be a way to squeeze more money for players at other positions.

The fact that it hasn’t happened would seem to indicate that those teams in a salary cap bind simply don’t see Omark as enough of a player to pencil him in for that job. All of which means that if Omark has his heart set on the NHL he may need to do what players like David Vyborny and Espen Knutsen did: wait for the next wave of NHL expansion.

Recently around the Nation Network

Speaking of teams in a salary cap bind, Cam Charron explains at Leafs Nation how three key rules apply to Mark Fraser's upcoming arbitration hearing:

Per Article 12.10 (a) in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Maple Leafs can NOT walk away from an arbitrator ruling of BELOW $3.5-million. Per Article 50.5 (d) (i) (B) (6) in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you subtract $900K from ANY contract that goes to the minors. The team can STILL negotiate with Mark Fraser up until 9:00 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow.

Click the link above to read more. Otherwise, feel free to read some of my recent pieces:

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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 james_dean
July 29 2013, 10:32AM
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In the linusheart we trust

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#2 the tikk
July 29 2013, 10:33AM
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MacTavish wrecked him because he hates skill. Omark would probably score 85-90 points in the NHL playing on a line with Rob Schremp and Pat Falloon.

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#4 DrDave
July 29 2013, 10:38AM
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I wouldn't mind giving him an actual shot to crack the team on the 3rd line... What could it hurt really?

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#5 They're $hittie
July 29 2013, 10:39AM
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New GM. New Coach. New philosophy.

I never thought Omark fit in but I would give him a chance if we move out Hemsky.

Reduce cap hit by 4M

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#6 Jammer
July 29 2013, 10:39AM
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What exactly is Omark's contract situation, I know he was a RFA last yearand Oilers qualified him. but because he played in Europe last season does that mean he doesnt become a ufa and the oilers have his NHL rights? At what point do those right run out, will he ever be a nhl ufa?

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#7 Lofty
July 29 2013, 10:39AM
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Ever since the shootout spin goal, I've thought he would be a perfect fit for a southern US budget team.

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#8 oilers2k10
July 29 2013, 10:45AM
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I always liked Omark and never get why people are giving him the Robbie Schremp treatment, Omark plays alot harder than Schremp and he's faster too. Yeah he sucks defensively but Tom Renney always said it wasn't for a lack of trying..and what skilled NHL rookie doesn't suck defensively? RNH is the only recent Oiler I can think of that was good defensively as a rookie.

I hope a team like Jersey or Detroit takes a flyer on him, costs next to nothing and can score.

On Edmonton he never got a fair top six shot. Fair as far as the team is concerned sure, but fair based on his skill level? NO.

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#9 Cody anderson
July 29 2013, 10:57AM
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I agree. I thought the wings would be sniffing around after seeing him play with Zetterburg.

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#10 Mike Krushelnyski
July 29 2013, 11:05AM
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I'd be surprised if Omark doesn't crack the Oilers roster this year. I mean, we specifically traded Paajarvi for Perron just so those H.O.P.E. t-shirts would still work.

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#11 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 29 2013, 11:08AM
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Anyone hear about the money that's involved in the Nurse contract? Should be in the area of 1.25'ish per.

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#12 They're $hittie
July 29 2013, 11:16AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Anyone hear about the money that's involved in the Nurse contract? Should be in the area of 1.25'ish per.

I think it will be higher for a top 7. Gagner was around the 1.95M or 2.25 No?

Im going to guess 1.8M

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#13 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 29 2013, 11:24AM
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@They're $hittie

That would be in the ballpark. Usually fairly easy to see the money that's involved by now. Maybe it's different with these contracts beyond the 50 allowable.

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#14 Spydyr
July 29 2013, 11:33AM
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Why not bring him to camp. If he earns a job by being one of your top 12 forwards give him a job.

What is there to lose. Six rings pride?

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#15 Czar
July 29 2013, 11:40AM
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Time to cut the chord Oiler fans,kid didn't live up to the youtube hype. MacT has come out and said he's received no offers or interest in Omark despite his good numbers in a no hit league. Hope he's a throw in regardless of what MacT's next transaction is so we can put an end to this BS.

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#16 Todd
July 29 2013, 11:42AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Not enough grit on that line. Swap out Pat Falloon for Jean-Francois Jacques.

Off topic, but what's up with Eager? I see all sorts of discussion about lines, Clifford rumors, talk about need for size on the bottom etc. But I don't even see anyone mention Eagers name in any discussion as even an outside chance to work his way back in.. I dont even see him listed as the 16th fwd or something.

Is he completely written off? Was he bought out or traded and I missed that? Or was he that bad in OKC? Seems like something that should be at least talked about no?

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#17 Tom
July 29 2013, 12:09PM
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the tikk wrote:

MacTavish wrecked him because he hates skill. Omark would probably score 85-90 points in the NHL playing on a line with Rob Schremp and Pat Falloon.

Are you on crack.... 85 - 90 points.... WOW! How exactly did MacT have anything to do with Omark's situation? Trolling are you?

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#18 TigerUnderGlass
July 29 2013, 12:40PM
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Tom wrote:

Are you on crack.... 85 - 90 points.... WOW! How exactly did MacT have anything to do with Omark's situation? Trolling are you?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Amazing!

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#19 Lochenzo
July 29 2013, 12:49PM
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I've never understood why Omark has not been moved. Even a couple of years ago, when Pittsburgh was loaded at centre with little cap room for wingers, I thought Omark would be the perfect gamble for such a team. The inability to leverage Omark for value is disappointing.

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#20 Walter Sobchak
July 29 2013, 01:04PM
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Good read Willis.

What are your thought's on attitude?

I think Omark might have got a little black balled here with Renney and it translated over to The Red Wings a team rumoured to be interested in Omark at one time.

Something's a miss with Omark and the entire NHL? Like you said there are teams that could potentially use a player like that.

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#21 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
July 29 2013, 01:21PM
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We've got too many midgets more skilled than him. Damn could he battle on the boards for someone that size though.

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#22 Scott in Grande Prairie
July 29 2013, 02:41PM
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Maybe it's a character-thing with Omark?

I should probably clarify that I've never heard anything about Omark that suggests he was a problem-child, other than a few whispers that he was a bit of an odd-duck (which certainly isn't the sign of a problem).

But like Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, if you eliminate all of the other possibilities, the last one, however improbably, must be the truth.

Omark's numbers, both in the NHL and elsewhere are good-to-great. The highlight clips are good-to-great. There are tons of NHL teams needing skill and scoring. The Oilers are (obviously) interested in moving him. His price-tag, trade-wise and contract-wise, will be reasonable

And yet ...he hasn't moved yet. So there's gotta be a story-behind-the-story here.

And I'm a long ways away from the story, so I don't know, but I have to believe NHL teams are shying away from him because there's something we don't know about Omark.

I know - that's not really fair to the dude ...

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#23 Micbilly99
July 29 2013, 03:46PM
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MacTavish stated about a month ago(On Gregor's show)that NO team has inquired about Omark. There is no market, not interest, no value to Omark. MacTavish was very clear, why do people keep talking about this guy? It’s over…move on.

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#24 WinterNightSky
July 29 2013, 04:56PM
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Does anyone know what happened with him during last year's playoffs? He may have been hurt. He didn't play in game 7 of the semi-finals. And you'd have a hard time convincing me that his attitude was bad enough for the coach to scratch the league's leading scorer in game 7.

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#25 @Oilanderp
July 29 2013, 05:02PM
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I agree with Walter and Scott. Omark pissed off the wrong guy in management. End of story.

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#26 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
July 29 2013, 05:08PM
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Tom wrote:

Are you on crack.... 85 - 90 points.... WOW! How exactly did MacT have anything to do with Omark's situation? Trolling are you?

time to take that sarcasm detector in for a tune up

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#27 Saytalk
July 29 2013, 08:31PM
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So is the whole point of Desjardins and Vollman equivalencies to vastly overestimate the potential NHL production of minor league players? Those estimates have never made sense.

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#28 Tikkanese
July 30 2013, 10:28AM
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To say Omark can't play in the NHL is just nonsense. He was on the same line as Zetterberg and Brunner last year during the lockout and was blowing them both away points wise while they were there. Sure it's a different league, Zetterberg was probably not trying at 100% but still, they were on the same line.

@JW why isn't Omark a UFA? He was qualified last year but I don't recall him being qualified again this year.

I hope he gets a shot somewhere. I know he doesn't really fit in here given his size and our depth on the wing. I agree with JW's assessment on both his "hard on the puck" style and skill level.

He never got his shot here IMO. His last year here he made the team again but was stuck on the Belanger Triangle then got hurt. Belanger seems to be a career killer. He's killed the careers of Eager, Hordichuk, Omark, others(?), himself and possibly Ryan Smyth. Those can't all be coincidence.

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#29 I tried it at home
July 31 2013, 01:16PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Not enough grit on that line. Swap out Pat Falloon for Jean-Francois Jacques.

Hey, what could go wrong with a little sandpaper?? - P.Quinn

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