Many thought that they would go to the NHL. But the huge money in the Russian KHL was more appealing. Today both Johan Harju and Linus Omark signed with big club Dynamo Moscow.
– I can confirm that it is true, says player agent Patrik Aronsson.
There’s bound to be blame on both ends; some will blame Omark for not doing whatever it takes to make the NHL, while others will blame the Oilers for being unwilling to give Omark a guaranteed roster spot. There’s truth to both points of view.
There is, however, one point of view which cannot be argued. Linus Omark, one of the finest offensive talents currently outside the NHL will not be an option for the Oilers next season, and that’s undoubtedly a bad thing. By way of comparison, here’s his stats line and that of Fabian Brunnstrom:
- Omark: 53GP – 23G – 32A – 55PTS
- Brunnstrom: 54GP – 9G – 28A – 37PTS
When you consider that Omark was a full year younger than Brunnstrom, those totals become even more remarkable. Based on the performance of players coming from different leagues to the NHL, Gabriel Desjardins developed a projection system to give a ball-park idea of a player’s likely contribution. Here is his projection for Omark over an 82 game schedule:
- Omark: 82GP – 28G – 39A – 67PTS
That’s hardly an iron-clad number, but it does give us an idea of what players who post Omark’s numbers in Europe typically do in the NHL. Whether Omark would have been able to achieve that or not is an open question, but one thing is for sure – after an excellent job by the European scouting department to identify a late round pick, and after years of development in Sweden, Linus Omark was a very intriguing option for the Edmonton Oilers next season. The fact that he isn’t coming over can only be regarded as a negative, and if in fact the reason for his defection was that the Oilers refused to guarantee an NHL roster spot (as has been reported), somebody should lose their job.
This is the same team that’s spent roster spots on marginal talents like Liam Reddox and Jeff Deslauriers just in this past season – there’s no reason not to guarantee Omark a spot as 14th forward. This was a low-risk, high-reward scenario, and if that was the sticking point it was a bad one.