World Championships Reaction: Prendergast and Omark

omark

Linus Omark’s performance at the 2009 IIHL World Championships turned some heads – including among the Oilers brass. Kevin Prendergast was asked about him in today’s edition of the Edmonton Sun.

“We knew what he was all about before (heading to Switzerland),” said Oilers vice-president of hockey operations Kevin Prendergast. “He has a lot of skill. He certainly has offensive tools and he thinks the game really well and he’s got good hands. The thing we didn’t expect is how gritty he is, how tough he plays against bigger players. He goes to all the gritty areas.”

I really hope that Prendergast is exaggerating when he says that they didn’t expect Omark to be so gritty. The Elitserien, where Omark’s spent the last four seasons, isn’t exactly for shrinking violets, whatever its reputation. It’s got a ton of ex-HNL defensemen, from 6’5” Ivan Majesky to Joe Dipenta, a gritty player who was a regular on the Anaheim Ducks team that won the 2007 Stanley Cup, to Pavel Skrbek, an ex-Predators prospect whose greatest asset is his hitting game. Every team seems to have at least one enforcer, many of them ex-NHL’ers including Kris Beech (146PIM in the AHL in 2004-05) and Kristian Kudroc (topped 100 PIMs three times in North America and managed 227 in just 48 games in his first year back in Europe).

In other words, there’s been plenty of opportunity for Oilers’ scouts to watch Omark play against big opponents and opponents with a mean streak, so hopefully the team already had a good idea of his capabilities in that area. More from Prendergast:

“He’s not afraid of anything. He’s a good enough skater, he separates himself from people and he makes plays. He’s highly skilled and he plays in all the gritty areas. If he has a negative it’s his size.”

The other thing that I’d add to that is that Omark looks like he cheats for offense. I didn’t watch every game, and I’ll also admit that I’m highly against forming an opinion on a player over such a limited span, but it looked to me like Omark was the first guy out of his own zone pretty much every time. He didn’t play a lot of powerplay minutes as far as I saw, but he’s dynamic 5-on-5, playing a tremendous cycling game and distributing the puck quickly and with ease. It’s good to hear Prendergast speak so positively about Omark; it’s a significant change from his comments prior to the tournament. I really hope though that the Oilers are forming their opinion of Omark based on his play during the season, rather than at one tournament.

Finally, a couple of fun quotes from Omark on his performance at the World Championships. These are translated via Google, so there may be some slight error but the gist is there. First on his point production:

“More than a point per game. I am happy with but it could have been more.”

And more interestingly, a quote on what Omark thought of playing against NHL players and established stars like Jaromir Jagr:

“The stars were perhaps not as good as I expected.”

  • Hippy

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    Tom wrote:

    WOW a non-statistical opinion from J. Willis.
    It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that Willis ONLY uses stats to form opinions.

    Well, to be fair, 95% of the time, that's the case.

  • Hippy

    Phil wrote:

    Well, to be fair, 95% of the time, that’s the case.

    I use my eyes whenever possible while forming opinions.

    Since I'm not an NHL scout, I use the stats to back it up; Scotty Bowman can tell you that he thinks Player X is great, but if I tell you Player X is great, so what?

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Since I’m not an NHL scout, I use the stats to back it up; Scotty Bowman can tell you that he thinks Player X is great, but if I tell you Player X is great, so what?

    Doesn't stop me.

  • Hippy

    shades of peanuts would be the more obvious ambiguity, no?

    There were a couple of whole games of Omark available on you tube not that long ago and I watched em. If the Oilers scouts would have got off their lazy asses and clicked on the ole youtube they would have had a better idea of how gritty Omark is. Unfortunately they might as well be tucked away on a beach at some resort like our previous scouting staff because they are still getting surprised by players in our own system. Imagine how little they must know about other players and prospects?

  • Hippy

    Brian O'Neill wrote:

    I must say Linus is a badass name. Almost sounds like Leonidus

    I think he should definitely change his name to Leonidos so that whenever he scored they could play clips from 300 in RX1. If he were a goalie he could paint his helmet to look like a battle scene from Thermopylae, but alas I can only dream.

  • Hippy

    Omark never avoided traffic at home i SEL. He drove to the net time and time again. if he didn't end up in the corners or behind the net shaking defenders off and then finding a pass through trafic. The Oilers managment shouldn't have been surprised at all. Well, none of us who followed him every game this year were at least.

    He also had played some 10-12 caps againts teams like Russia, Finland, Czech Republic and so on before the Worlds. I think his international play this season ended in 20-22 caps and about 20 points.