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:

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“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

    With Omark playing so well, I wonder how in touch the Oilers brass was with their European scouts and development team. Then again maybe those comments from before the Tourney were meant to save face more than to give an actual assessment of Omark.

  • Hippy

    I like his comments. We don't have enough confidence in the room right now. Closest thing we have to confidence is Hemsky going "I want to be the man". We need someone who says "I AM the man, and I am going to go out there and prove it". Hopefully Omark has a random 18 year old growth spurt 🙂

  • Hippy

    @ Chris:
    He's 22? You sure? i just read the article where JW was getting the quotes from and it had this:

    At five-foot-nine and 168 pounds, the 18-year-old left winger needs physical maturing, which is why the Oilers aren't too torn up that he signed a two-year deal with Dynamo Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League.

  • Hippy

    @ DK0:

    Rob Tychowski's had a rough year. Mixing up 18 and 22 is a lot more forgiveable than writing a game report where you herald a goaltender who didn't actually play.

  • Hippy

    @ DK0:
    I used to enjoy the Sun's sports section. I look at both online now, it isnt even close in terms of quality (IMHO). Even their website seems tabloid and Tychkowski is the only writer I like (even if he doesnt know which goalie is in net or how old Omark is).

  • Hippy

    Its funny that people were getting on Omark about not being gritty enough, because it looked to me (from his Youtube clips I admit) like he was a guy that played the downlow and took the bumps to get the goal. I actually thought he had a bit of Hemsky in some shots.

    I am not making an argument in based solely on Youtube, but I think it would be pretty obvious to anyone watching Omark with a little regularity that he plays bigger than he is. I sure hope that the quotes in the Sun are a face-saver and not genuine surprise.

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy:
    I agree with you on the Sun – I used to turn to it first to find out what was what with the Oil, but I never go there now and that started a long time ago.

  • Hippy

    @ Quinn:
    I agree. It seemed to me that even in his youtube highlights, which I understand only show a limited amount of his game, he is willing to take the puck into the hard areas to generate offense.

  • Hippy

    This dovetails nicley with Willis' article about luck…(Well, not really) Omark has a breakout season; but the Oilers can't afford to get smaller… Murphey's Law dictates that Jordan Schroeder will still be available at tenth; because the Oilers can't afford to get smaller… Eberle WILL have a fantastic camp; but only because the Oilers can't afford to get smaller…

    As for Schroeder: if he is still available at tenth; the Oilers should draft him under the BPA concept. If they do however, I'll complain, and suck, and whine about it…(Especially if Kassian is still available). On the other hand, if MacGregor does what I want and drafts Kassian; and then three years later Schroeder scores 25 for the Predators while Kassian is still learning to skate in Springfield… I'll change my name to [email protected]_73 and complain about Tambellini's failure to address scouting.

    *Joking…I think…maybe not…*

  • Hippy

    "I really hope that Prendergast is exaggerating when he says that they didn’t expect Omark to be so gritty."

    Well, to be fair, there are other options other than the scouts being incompetent. Maybe the toughies don't play the same in Europe. Maybe Omark avoided traffic during the regular season. It would seem he was likely playing against the best players he ever has, so it wouldn't be unusual for the staff to be surprised at how well he competed against bigger NHL players.

    Pretty hard to criticize the staff when they picked him up in the 4th round in the first place. In fact, 5 out of 6 players in that draft (Gagner, Plante, Nash, Omark and Kyntar) look like they have a chance.

  • Hippy

    I didn't catch much of the WHC so this is a question those that saw him play.

    Was his tournament really all that impressive?

    He beat up on a crappy team with a 5 point first game then ended up with only 5 pts in the last 8 games against the real teams. It's not exactly the type of splits that leap to mind when a player is happy he finished at a pt/game.

  • Hippy

    Rick wrote:

    He beat up on a crappy team with a 5 point first game then ended up with only 5 pts in the last 8 games against the real teams. It’s not exactly the type of splits that leap to mind when a player is happy he finished at a pt/game.

    He didn't get much powerplay time; that's very impressive EV scoring.

  • Hippy

    @ Rick:
    but he said he wasnt happy with it, he said he thought he could do better. It was his second last quote.
    And he did better than any other Oiler there.

  • Hippy

    Ducey wrote:

    Well, to be fair, there are other options other than the scouts being incompetent. Maybe the toughies don’t play the same in Europe. Maybe Omark avoided traffic during the regular season. It would seem he was likely playing against the best players he ever has, so it wouldn’t be unusual for the staff to be surprised at how well he competed against bigger NHL players.
    Pretty hard to criticize the staff when they picked him up in the 4th round in the first place. In fact, 5 out of 6 players in that draft (Gagner, Plante, Nash, Omark and Kyntar) look like they have a chance.

    I didn't mean to come across as critical of the staff so much as I was implying that I doubted Prendergast's statement that this was a new development. The SEL's a fairly tough league and there's plenty of grit there, so there should have been ample opportunity to be sure Omark was playing that way against bigger players.

    Certainly a run against HV71 is a bigger test than a game against Latvia, yes?

    As for the conjecture that he avoided traffic during the regular season, if so I hope the Oilers have the good sense to place a bunch of regular season play above one tourney.

  • Hippy

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    And he did better than any other Oiler there.

    Wasn't everybody better than any other Oiler there?

    Oh well, atleast we won't have to sit through the summer and listen to all the Oilers fans trumpet on about how great they finished or how they broke out at the WHC.

    We can go into next camp with nice low expectations and maybe get surprised in a good way for a change.

  • Hippy

    Rick wrote:

    Oh well, atleast we won’t have to sit through the summer and listen to all the Oilers fans trumpet on about how great they finished or how they broke out at the WHC.

    Remember when Conklin won Goalie of the tournament one year? That turned out pretty well for us right?

    *remembers game 1 of the Cup Finals '06 and hates MacT even more for not dressing Maarkanen*

  • Hippy

    It's off topic but since we haven't had a "who's the next coach" blog for a few days, I figure what the hell.

    With the Canucks annual disappearing act in the playoffs once again coming to fruition last night, will this result in a firing out on the wet coast and take Arniel off the market for the Oilers or complicate things with other potential candidates?

  • Hippy

    Rick wrote:

    I didn’t catch much of the WHC so this is a question those that saw him play.
    Was his tournament really all that impressive?
    He beat up on a crappy team with a 5 point first game then ended up with only 5 pts in the last 8 games against the real teams. It’s not exactly the type of splits that leap to mind when a player is happy he finished at a pt/game.

    Better than Horcoff's 2 pts…