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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#51 ed in london
August 28 2013, 09:37AM
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Brownlee, I'm beginning to think I must be losing it, as I seem to be agreeing with you more and more.

I see no downside to the Omark signing, and this is coming from someone who is not his biggest fan.

Agree that Dubnyk has proven to be a legit NHL starting goalie and the Hemsky on the 3rd line is likely to be a problem.

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#52 tileguy
August 28 2013, 10:22AM
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for those who haven't seen it, go look at this you tube of Omarks goals, it is so entertaining you will watch it more than once.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiGxP8v5_Fg#t=163

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#53 DieHard
August 28 2013, 11:31AM
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stevesmith wrote:

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

Hemsky

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#54 Rocknrolla
August 28 2013, 02:42PM
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MessyEH! wrote:

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.

Also some forget how potent he was at possession.

He was a demon with the puck on the boards. Very hard to knock off the puck. With line mates who can get to scoring positions he should do well with the cycle.

I think the right line mates will be key for him and with Eakins blank slate policy, I see him doing well and pushing Perron.

He's gotta work on defending and giveaways, but desperation will help his effort.

Never mind our PP2 just got a boost. Other teams PK is going to hate us:

PP1--Yak, nuge, hall, Ebs, Jultz

...then PP2---Hemmer, Omark, Perron, belov, gags

These guys will score a lot of PP

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#55 stevesmith
August 28 2013, 03:21PM
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DieHard wrote:

Hemsky

Not true. Hemsky is injury prone, has a poor attitude, 3 years older, plays a one dimensional game. Raymond is faster, younger, put up more points playing same ice time while playing both ends of the ice and he kills penaltys. Hemsky is far overpaid and like it or not in a cap world is a huge issue. A far better option for a bottom six forward.

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#56 TV6
August 28 2013, 03:31PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

"There's certainly a prickish element to Raymonds game too from what I remember"

If by "prickish" you mean is soft like a rose, & who is hesitant to go into the corners to use his body to compete for the puck, then you remember Raymond quite well.

There is ZERO sandpaper to his game.

As for this comment from the 'other' poster...

"Mason Raymond is a better hockey player than everyone in the Oilers bottom 6. And it's not even close."

Breaking the bar of ridiculous posts from the past is not an easy thing to do since the level of them have been set so high. But once again, the bar goes even higher with this comment.

Raymond does not have NHL gig at the moment for a reason right now. Every GM in the game knows what his compete level is like & how soft he is after his back injury. Even GMMG won't let him play for his Knucks squad.

I'm guessing that the 30 NHL GM's know just a teensy bit more than the illustrious poster who thinks Raymond is such a good hockey player.

x6

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#57 Oil Noggin
August 28 2013, 06:18PM
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Remember a time when Quinn put Sammy Gags at the back of the batting order, and he came out like holy terror and played (fought) his butt off to prove he needed a promotion. Those players weren't much either. If Omark grabs that attitude he might stick otherwise, oh well, another oil bust. Would like a signing to pay off for a change.

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#58 DieHard
August 28 2013, 06:28PM
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stevesmith wrote:

Not true. Hemsky is injury prone, has a poor attitude, 3 years older, plays a one dimensional game. Raymond is faster, younger, put up more points playing same ice time while playing both ends of the ice and he kills penaltys. Hemsky is far overpaid and like it or not in a cap world is a huge issue. A far better option for a bottom six forward.

Hemsky is a much better player than Raymond. And it's not even close.

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#59 Kevrock
August 28 2013, 06:36PM
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@MessyEH!

That was Ranford more then Fuhr but great point, better than being known as the guy that lets the beach ball in from the blue line once every 3-5 games...no wait that was Salo. DD is awesome and the point of having a better D in front will make all the difference. Crappy part is were going to have a big bill to keep him after this year.....

Omark is a pimp , no doubts he won't make this team because I think Eakins is going to push 3 attack lines and 1 shut-down. I really don't understand why more can't embrace the concept that the best defence is a great offence!

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#60 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
August 28 2013, 07:04PM
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I want to see Omark playing a solid responsible 3rd line LW. Use him on the second PP feeding Yak in the high slot. I would put him up there with the best play makers on the team. After the sufferings of the 3rd and 4th lines of the last 5 years I pray that they put someone in there that can put up some points.

At a $600,000 two way deal the options are endless. In the end I think we will see a goal Datsyuk(13)assists Zetterberg(31)Omark(17)

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#61 dobiezeke
August 28 2013, 11:00PM
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Rocknrolla wrote:

Also some forget how potent he was at possession.

He was a demon with the puck on the boards. Very hard to knock off the puck. With line mates who can get to scoring positions he should do well with the cycle.

I think the right line mates will be key for him and with Eakins blank slate policy, I see him doing well and pushing Perron.

He's gotta work on defending and giveaways, but desperation will help his effort.

Never mind our PP2 just got a boost. Other teams PK is going to hate us:

PP1--Yak, nuge, hall, Ebs, Jultz

...then PP2---Hemmer, Omark, Perron, belov, gags

These guys will score a lot of PP

Yes, a demon on the puck on the boards...much like Burmistrov in Winnipeg last season.

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#62 Reagan
August 29 2013, 06:25AM
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I found it quote hilarious over the last couple of days listening to the reaction of many local media kinda chew on their pencils after this surprise handed to us. All I could think was Kevin Lowe saying expect the unexpected... Lol well if the guy has an attitude adjustment and busts his butt of five him a chance to play. It will only help the team out! Let's see what happens... Haha

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#63 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
August 29 2013, 07:50AM
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Hayek wrote:

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.

I'm not being sarcastic when I ask, if what you say is true, how do you explain that not a single GM in the entire league was interested in him?

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#64 stevesmith
August 29 2013, 09:41AM
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@DieHard

By what standards? You keep saying hes better but provide no proof.

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