THE WAY I SEE IT: KUDOS FOR OMARK

Robin Brownlee
August 27 2013 04:19PM

When reality hits, it can produce equal but opposite reactions, and that's what we've seen these past two weeks with the departure of Toni Rajala to Europe and the signing of Linus Omark to a one-year, two-way deal by the Edmonton Oilers today.

Rajala, who had one year remaining on his contract with the Oilers, was looking at a return to Oklahoma City the AHL, where he would have made a relatively modest $50,000. With no immediate chance he'd crack Edmonton's roster (or get a one-way contract) that didn’t stack up very well with the kind of money Rajala could earn in Europe. Reality check. He opted for the money.

The unquestionably talented Omark, who just tore it up in the Swiss Elite League, returns to the fold here because his exploits across the pond didn’t generate the kind of interest – next-to-none -- he and his agent hoped it would in having the Oilers move him along to another team.

Omark could've made more money returning to Switzerland this season than the $100,000 he'll get in the AHL with this one-year deal, but this past season was a lesson that lighting it up over there wasn't going to do much to further his desire to play in the NHL. Reality check. Omark has opted for opportunity (and the chance to shove it to his critics) .

I say good for Omark. How refreshing.

PUT UP OR SHUT UP

Last week, when the 22-year-old Rajala and the Oilers mutually agreed to part ways, I wrote: "I don’t understand all the fuss over Rajala, just as I didn’t understand the brief uproar from a vocal minority about Omark when he went home after failing to do enough to secure a spot on Edmonton's NHL roster. Why didn’t the Oilers at least trade Omark for some assets in return? Well, maybe because there wasn't much interest by any of the other 29 NHL teams. Let’s start there."

I'm not nearly as ga-ga about Omark as some people out there are. I don’t get torqued up one way or another about things like "controversial" spin-o-rama moves in shootouts, but I give Omark credit for swallowing a heaping helping of humble pie – and, make no mistake, that's what the lack of interest and indifference about him from the other 29 NHL GMs was – and being willing to come back and raise his stock by taking this two-way deal.

With just 65 NHL games (and 30 points) on his resume, Omark, for all his offensive flash and crowd-pleasing moves, hasn’t done nearly enough to earn a one-way deal from the Oilers or anybody else, even he thought otherwise. When GM Craig MacTavish told us earlier this off-season he'd had no action on Omark, he wasn't kidding.

So, here we are. Omark returns with a chance to make $600,000 on top in the unlikely event he sticks with the Oilers and $100,000 on the farm. Omark is saying all the right things in interviews he's granted so far. Will he prove the doubters wrong? I don't know, and I have my doubts, but good on him for coming back to take a swing at it.

WHILE I'M AT IT . . .

. . . I don't see Omark as a fit with the Oilers in the long-term, given the make-up of their top six forwards now, and I'm not so sure we'll see him with Boyd Gordon and Ales Hemsky on a third line, as has been speculated. I don't see Hemsky as a fit (at least a happy one) on the third line, either.

. . . While MacTavish is willing to entertain at least a brief encore by Omark and will obviously be in on shaping the roster, a lot of what happens as camp and pre-season unfolds will depend on what new coach Dallas Eakins sees. I know a lot of fans, and with justification, expect MacT (and Kevin Lowe) to have their fingerprints on every decision, but I don’t think for a second Eakins has signed on to be a puppet or a yes-man.

. . . Why is it some people still doubt that Devan Dubnyk is a bonafide NHL starter? I don’t get it. Has he proven he's in the upper tier of NHL starters? No. Will he? I don’t know. I'm tempted, however, to tear out what little hair I still have when people question whether he's a legit No. 1. Check his numbers. Figure out where those numbers put him in the pecking order of 30 starters. Now, project what those numbers might be if actually gets to play behind a defense that is NHL caliber from one through six. Hmm.

. . . In the Radio Ga-Ga department, Oiler president Patrick Laforge let it slip today that 630 CHED play-by-play man Jack Michaels and Bob Stauffer, analyst and host of Oilers Now, have had their contracts extended. I'm guessing their deals are for between two and four years.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Craig1981
August 27 2013, 04:26PM
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If dubnyk was on the Hawks or many other teams no one would question him as a starter

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#2 northof51
August 27 2013, 04:33PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

If dubnyk was on the Hawks or many other teams no one would question him as a starter

I'm very much a supporter of Dubnyk, but even Corey Crawford has people questioning his starting abilities. I think that perception just dogs some goalies no matter what they do to silence the critics. Just as some goalies have been over-rated for years (MA Fleury comes to mind...).

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#3 northof51
August 27 2013, 04:34PM
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Also, I agree with you Robin on the Omark evaluation. Good signing, not great. Omark doesn't help us win anything (of importance) unless he ups his trade value and helps us secure a more balanced roster.

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#4 David S
August 27 2013, 04:35PM
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For the sum of a lousy $100,000 MacT has introduced something into the team this fall that hasn't been there in a long time - desperation. Omark will bust his guts to make the big team and pull up his immediate competition no matter if he succeeds or not.

I too have to give a ton of credit to Linus. He wants to make the NHL so much he's prepared to give up hundreds of thousands of dollars. He'll come in hungry, ready to do whatever it takes to crack the lineup. Nothing but respect for that guy. You gotta love a good underdog story.

Just watch the crowd go nuts for him this fall.

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#5 Wax Man Riley
August 27 2013, 04:36PM
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I hate to say it.... I mean it. HATE IT.... but I'm pulling for Omark. I hope he actually sticks with the team.

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#6 Wax Man Riley
August 27 2013, 04:36PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I hate to say it.... I mean it. HATE IT.... but I'm pulling for Omark. I hope he actually sticks with the team.

AND THEN THEY TRADE HIM FOR WEBER

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#7 hemi
August 27 2013, 04:41PM
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Yes indeed, reality has called Omark. Personally, I hope the guy can get somewhere this season, either with the Oil or another team via trade. Never been a hater of Omark but I have always thought that he was a wee bit too big on himself. Here is hoping that maturity can take him to the level he needs to be in order to be a NHL player.

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#8 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
August 27 2013, 04:46PM
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Doobie is a good

goaltender. Lets see him with

a GOOD D in front.

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#9 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
August 27 2013, 04:48PM
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Bronte- any Radio Ga-Ga goodies about the pending all sports radio changes happening in September?

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#10 Oilbaron
August 27 2013, 05:01PM
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I gotta think that with the news of Omark possibly returning to the NHL (a month ago) and with the announcement his signing coming a few days after Rajala leaving there is more to the picture than most of us think. Rajala (or agent) must have voiced his mindset some time ago, and the Oilers management must have had this plan in the works for sometime - or something like it

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#11 thebiggestmanintheworld
August 27 2013, 05:06PM
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Jack Michaels and Bob Stauffer extended?.....

ouch. Thank the hockey gods for PVR....

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#12 Jimmer
August 27 2013, 05:06PM
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At best he can be trade bait at the trade deadline for a 3rd pick. Hopefully we don't need him to fill in for injuries in the top 6 or we are doomed.

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#13 DieHard
August 27 2013, 05:23PM
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Omark is smart and very creative. He needs to adjust his game to be more defensive in the NHL. If he can penalty kill, then he can make it with the Oilers. If not, then AHL and beyond.

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#14 Dave
August 27 2013, 05:33PM
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I think that Stauffer has improved hos broadcasting skills since he left 1260. At least he will sometimes stray from the Oilers game plan.

As for Jack ... no complaints. Rod had to retire sometime. Possibly too many cliches is all.

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#15 MessyEH!
August 27 2013, 06:06PM
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Haters are going to hate. If any cares to recall, Omark has always been a gamer. All of the linemates he had 2 season ago are gone. Belanger, Petrell and Hordichuk. Taylor Hall couldn't put up pionts with those dredges. Then they sent him to the AHL, and he tares it up. Until a dirty hit causes a leg injury. He hits the gym building his upper body, and firing a thousand shots a day. Comes back after 6 weeks and goes on a scoring frenzy, is recalled by the Oilers and Renney doesn't play him. When he does its with the Hordichuk and Eager.

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#16 MessyEH!
August 27 2013, 06:13PM
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Oh yeah. It's time Dubnyk learns the "over exaggerated Fuhr arm reach curl glove save" and the fans would love him. It's not that he's a bad goalie He's a bad showman.ENTERTAIN US.

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#17 Hemipower
August 27 2013, 06:35PM
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Omark is going to be a bigger epic fail than when Comrie came back ~

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#18 David S
August 27 2013, 06:43PM
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You gotta love the guys here who go all out for the highest negative Dakin like there's no tomorrow.

At least that's what I hope they're doing. *cringes*

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#19 K_Mart
August 27 2013, 06:50PM
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Comes here, gets cut when he was clearly one of the best players in pre-season, busts his butt in OKC, gets called up, shows oilers fans that he has more jam in along the boards than some 6'5" slugs, proceeds to put up 27pts in 51 gms despite playing anywhere from the fourth line to the 2nd line... Only to get sent down. Many members of the team 1260 continue to talk about how there isn't room for the type of player that he is.

Suffers a horribly timed injury when his next call-up opportunity arises. Makes an ill informed decision and goes and tears up the swiss league. Realizes that means nothing and decides to sacrifice $ in exchange for pursuing his dream.

He is a workhorse, with skill and determination who plays much bigger than his size would dictate.

Can't believe how much 5 inches of height has cost this guy.

I'm not saying he's better than ebs,hall,nuge,nail,perron,gags,orhemmer... in fact I'd say he is probably a notch below hemmer perron and gags, but no one knows for sure.

A total of 65 games is not a large enough sample size to really say how well his game translates to the NHL.

Personally if he agreed to just play 7-8 mins a night on the fourth line and put up 20 pts over 82 games and kept his plus/minus at a respectable level, I'd be fine with that.

Gregor always says that there's no way you can win with nothing but skill because it's never been done. Well, that's not really a fair statement since it's almost impossible to put together 12 forwards who could all put up 50+ pts with 15 mins or more of ice time.

Buffalo ran four scoring lines in 2006 and they won the presidents' trophy. They were crushed in the playoffs, but it had more to do with dressing 4 ahl defensemen than it did with having small forwards.

Try dressing 12 JF Jacques, or 12 Macyntires and see how well it works.

There's no question that skill/speed with size is better than without size, but if ever you have to eliminate one of those three factors, it will always be size.

Will a team ever win the cup with 12 forwards that are all skilled forwards? doubtful since there is almost never even a team in the league that is built that way. It's also expensive to employ 12 players like that. If every team could have all their forwards be as good as say Datsyuk ... I'm sure they'd be fine with having the smallest team in the league. (no, i'm not comparing omark to datsyuk, i'm just saying that the oilers are better with omark in the bottom six than they are with eager or brown.)

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#20 The Oilers Shot Clock
August 27 2013, 07:06PM
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Omark. Don't let the door hit you on the way in?

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#21 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
August 27 2013, 07:14PM
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Mr Omark will play 400 games in the NHL. You can't fault his effort ever. He is going to come into camp like a bulldog and impress a new coach that will reward his efforts. This directly challenges Ryan Jones in the line up, something MacT has wanted from the beginning. If I had to choose between them? I would pick Omark

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#22 Butters
August 27 2013, 07:18PM
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If Omark gets semt to the AHL. lights it up and gets recalled, he has to pass through waivers, yes? If so, the best outcome for the Oilers is he makes the team and lights it up. Go Linus!

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#23 K_Mart
August 27 2013, 07:21PM
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If Eakins puts as much value on work ethic as he claims, than Omark will have an even better shot.

I'm sure if he's willing to pass on 100's of thousands of dollars in europe, that he'd be happy to take a 3 or 4 line spot at 7-11 mins a night.

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#24 oilerman53
August 27 2013, 07:47PM
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We had Belanger and Eager smelling up the ice for two years creating absolutely no offence. Omark was never a bad option for the lineup, he created his own space and was a bulldog on the forecheck. Renney was opting to play Smyth and Horcoff forty minutes a night and constanly giving guys like Petrell first line ice time. Omark just never had a real shot up here, taking the two way deal means hes hungry. Never a bad thing having another guy challenge the top six for ice time.

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#25 YFC Prez
August 27 2013, 07:48PM
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Got a soft spot for Omark, he was the O in my H.O.P.E for the rebuild.

Rebuild is winding down and Paajarvi is gone so I will not hold onto H.O.P.E any longer.

Just going to sit back and watch all the bitter oilers games of old turn into H.O.N.E.Y! Fitting acronym seeing how all the kids are bookended by Hall and Yakupov. Rebuild started when Hall was drafted and Yakupov marked the turn around point with this franchise.

Seasons so close I can taste it.

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#26 ross
August 27 2013, 07:50PM
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with hopkins questionable, I think hall will go to centre. Then Omark might get a chance, because he is not a third liner.

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#27 DSF
August 27 2013, 07:56PM
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I really don't have an issue with the Omark singing...very low risk.

But it would have been preferable, for a pittance more, to sign Mason Raymond, who has a 25 goal season on his resume, has speed to burn and is a very good penalty killer.

Raymond, coming back from his back injury, scored 10 goals and 22 points in 46 games last season. More than Hemsky.

That pro-rates to 18 goals and 39 points.

Not bad for third line minutes.

MacT lacks imagination.

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#28 DSF
August 27 2013, 07:57PM
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YFC Prez wrote:

Got a soft spot for Omark, he was the O in my H.O.P.E for the rebuild.

Rebuild is winding down and Paajarvi is gone so I will not hold onto H.O.P.E any longer.

Just going to sit back and watch all the bitter oilers games of old turn into H.O.N.E.Y! Fitting acronym seeing how all the kids are bookended by Hall and Yakupov. Rebuild started when Hall was drafted and Yakupov marked the turn around point with this franchise.

Seasons so close I can taste it.

H.O.N.E.Y.S.

You forgot Schultz.

If it doesn't go well, we can call it the H.O.N.E.Y.S. Wagon.

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#29 YFC Prez
August 27 2013, 08:03PM
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@DSF

lol touché

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#30 steveb12344
August 27 2013, 08:09PM
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DSF wrote:

I really don't have an issue with the Omark singing...very low risk.

But it would have been preferable, for a pittance more, to sign Mason Raymond, who has a 25 goal season on his resume, has speed to burn and is a very good penalty killer.

Raymond, coming back from his back injury, scored 10 goals and 22 points in 46 games last season. More than Hemsky.

That pro-rates to 18 goals and 39 points.

Not bad for third line minutes.

MacT lacks imagination.

Problem with Raymond is... No matter how much they scrub him down, I'm just not sure they could get that stench of Canuck off of him.

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#31 MessyEH!
August 27 2013, 08:20PM
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DSF wrote:

I really don't have an issue with the Omark singing...very low risk.

But it would have been preferable, for a pittance more, to sign Mason Raymond, who has a 25 goal season on his resume, has speed to burn and is a very good penalty killer.

Raymond, coming back from his back injury, scored 10 goals and 22 points in 46 games last season. More than Hemsky.

That pro-rates to 18 goals and 39 points.

Not bad for third line minutes.

MacT lacks imagination.

MacT and every other GM.

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#32 MessyEH!
August 27 2013, 08:22PM
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DSF wrote:

H.O.N.E.Y.S.

You forgot Schultz.

If it doesn't go well, we can call it the H.O.N.E.Y.S. Wagon.

And this is one of the reasons I respect you.

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#33 Rocket
August 27 2013, 08:23PM
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DSF wrote:

I really don't have an issue with the Omark singing...very low risk.

But it would have been preferable, for a pittance more, to sign Mason Raymond, who has a 25 goal season on his resume, has speed to burn and is a very good penalty killer.

Raymond, coming back from his back injury, scored 10 goals and 22 points in 46 games last season. More than Hemsky.

That pro-rates to 18 goals and 39 points.

Not bad for third line minutes.

MacT lacks imagination.

Maybe MacT lacks imagination. Or maybe Raymond didn't want to sign in Edmonton. MacT's moves this offseason have been interesting to say the least.

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#34 Racki
August 27 2013, 08:25PM
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At worst, Omark replaces the offense Rajala was bringing in OKC...

At best, he comes in and gets 173 points... OK, at realistic best, he fills in when the top six gets an injury and adds 3rd line scoring here and there outside of that. I'm really not even sure where Omark fits to be honest.. I suppose it gives Eakins more options for scoring.

One thing I'm pretty sure of is he didn't get to fully show what he can do... that most likely has to do with his attitude, in the past. But you'd have to figure that by this point the attitude has been checked at the door. He'll get a clean slate with a coach who knows nothing about him, so no preconceived judgement. He won't likely get a better opportunity than this. The Oilers don't have much to lose here by adding him, in my opinion. Again, he'll improve OKC, at worst, and at best they recover a lost prospect and save some face.

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#35 DSF
August 27 2013, 08:28PM
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steveb12344 wrote:

Problem with Raymond is... No matter how much they scrub him down, I'm just not sure they could get that stench of Canuck off of him.

Yeah...there's no stench at all on a team that has missed the playoffs 7 years in a row.

Get good hockey players.

Mason Raymond is a better hockey player than everyone in the Oilers bottom 6.

And it's not even close.

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#36 DSF
August 27 2013, 08:31PM
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Rocket wrote:

Maybe MacT lacks imagination. Or maybe Raymond didn't want to sign in Edmonton. MacT's moves this offseason have been interesting to say the least.

Could be.

I keep thinking Calgary will use all that cap space ($7.7M) to sign some actual NHL players to round out their lineup but more and more it's looking like they are in full tank mode.

A top 5 pick this year and Connor McDavid next year must be very appealing.

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#37 Rocket
August 27 2013, 08:32PM
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@K_Mart

Yeah it seems like lately Gregor has been really buying into the whole "you have to be big to win" narrative that grips most traditional media personalities.

Gregor strikes me as a pretty smart guy but it's almost like he is trying to ignore any advanced stats that contradict his arguments.

Maybe Gregor has been listening to Spector a lot lately. He should stop that.

To be clear, I think size is definitely an asset, but not necessarily at the expense of skill. Omark is not a long term solution, but as a stop-gap third liner, I think he can fit in.

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#38 Rocket
August 27 2013, 08:35PM
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@DSF

Yeah everybody is writing off The Flames this season but they still have some options if they want to spend to the cap that would really help them.

And you're right. If they tank, a high pick is a nice consolation prize.

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#39 Hayek
August 27 2013, 08:35PM
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Curious why people label Omark, who often have not actually watched him play, or can accurately remember what he brings to the table.

Omark is surprisingly good in the corners, and not just for someone his size. His active stick is above average, and his ability to strip the puck from opponents is easily tops on the team.

I think if he was listed at 6'0, 190lbs, and played the exact same game as he does now, people would have a drastically different perspective on him. But most can't look past height and weight to realize what he actually brings to a lineup at even strength.

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#40 DieHard
August 27 2013, 10:58PM
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DSF wrote:

Yeah...there's no stench at all on a team that has missed the playoffs 7 years in a row.

Get good hockey players.

Mason Raymond is a better hockey player than everyone in the Oilers bottom 6.

And it's not even close.

And then to say its not even close is just f-ing stupid.

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#41 Eddie Shore
August 27 2013, 11:03PM
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DSF wrote:

I really don't have an issue with the Omark singing...very low risk.

But it would have been preferable, for a pittance more, to sign Mason Raymond, who has a 25 goal season on his resume, has speed to burn and is a very good penalty killer.

Raymond, coming back from his back injury, scored 10 goals and 22 points in 46 games last season. More than Hemsky.

That pro-rates to 18 goals and 39 points.

Not bad for third line minutes.

MacT lacks imagination.

Give me a break DSF. Hemsky had 9-11-20 in 38 games which prorates to 19-23-42. You're getting lazy.

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#42 Quicksilver ballet
August 27 2013, 11:18PM
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With Eakins in over his head the first couple months implementing another new system for the players to learn, getting to know the players in the system available to him, settling in a new city with his family. Selecting a captain may happen later rather than sooner.

Instead of players handing out a cap/hat of some sort, or a silly jacket for an unsung hero of the game award. Why not give the chosen player of the game the C for the next game? Put some punch behind that award for the first couple months of the season/till a full time one is appointed by Dallas Eakins. Maybe now's the time to focus on effort/winning rather than irrelevant humour.

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#43 Quicksilver ballet
August 27 2013, 11:28PM
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DSF wrote:

I really don't have an issue with the Omark singing...very low risk.

But it would have been preferable, for a pittance more, to sign Mason Raymond, who has a 25 goal season on his resume, has speed to burn and is a very good penalty killer.

Raymond, coming back from his back injury, scored 10 goals and 22 points in 46 games last season. More than Hemsky.

That pro-rates to 18 goals and 39 points.

Not bad for third line minutes.

MacT lacks imagination.

Another excellent point.

There's certainly a prickish element to Raymonds game too from what I remember. Maybe Mayson still ends up here as well. Why not both?

What do the Oil have to lose giving Omark another shot. His expectations should be tempered with him knowing he's competing for a 3rd line job now. Only problem is, who plays between Hemsky and Omark.....certainly not Gordon. Hope it works out for Omark. Like to see him has some sort of resemblance of an NHL career.

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#44 106 and 106
August 28 2013, 12:36AM
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@DSF

Dude, Raymond can't see. 30 GM's know that or he would be signed already.

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#46 j
August 28 2013, 08:39AM
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As pointed out here and elsewhere, there aren't many teams that succeed in the playoffs without size in the lineup. However, the regular season is a different beast altogether. What if the new Oiler's vision (i.e. MacT) is to run a skill lineup right through to the trade deadline and then start adding a bit of crust? This gives the fans excellent hockey all season and the best chance of playoff success. As a longstanding Oiler fan, I'd buy into that.

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#47 VK63
August 28 2013, 08:59AM
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It seems a rather cavalier usage of a spot on the 50 man roster. YES they have room and YES they have NO money... but essentially this is a depth move for the AHL. Is he really the best available option?

As an obvious upside he would be quite good for dman development in one on one drills, or goalies in shoot out practice.... beyond that.... he seems a rather redundant choice given the smallish, softish, turn over ish, non 200 foot game lads already on "big" deals.

Puzzling

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#48 God
August 28 2013, 09:03AM
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@DSF

Dude, Mason Raymond, future spinal-fusion patient, is a 'slightly' more expensive than Omark. You know that this is a numbers game. Weak argument.

I'm sure Raymond would love to be on a team like Florida or Phx where he'd have a shot at a top 6 position. I rarely defend MacT, because he hasn't proven anything yet, but you're just barking up any tree hoping to ruffle feathers.

Weak DSF, weak. You can do better than that.

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#49 Rotten Ron
August 28 2013, 09:28AM
Trash it!
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cheers

I am curious how people who claim Omark has "grit" or is "strong on the boards" come to this conclusion. I've seen no evidence of it. A third line with Hemsky and Omark is preposterous no matter whos down the middle.

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#50 stevesmith
August 28 2013, 09:36AM
Trash it!
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cheers

@DieHard

The stupid defence, brilliant. Provide examples of the Oilers bottom six superior to Raymond. You wont because you cant.

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