Based on performance and need, highlight reel hotshot Linus Omark isn’t the first player who should be recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons by the Edmonton Oilers. Now that I think about it, he’s not even the second.
While Omark’s brilliant five-goal night in 7-6 shootout win over the Toronto Marlies Sunday is noteworthy, as has been his performance since being demoted by the Oilers, the talented Swede doesn’t fit the bill as to what the NHL roster most needs right now.
If you’re talking about a call-up as a reward for Omark’s prolific production with the Barons so far, especially if Shawn Horcoff is out for more than Tuesday’s game against Carolina — I doubt that’s the case — fine, I suppose.
Not my first option, but no real harm in it. The 23-year-old winger got the short straw in not being named to the roster after the pre-season, so maybe Steve Tambellini owes him one.
That said, unless Omark can play on the blue line, or kill penalties and slot into Tom Renney’s bottom-six as an effective checker, recalling him won’t address the most glaring long-term needs on the roster. I’d argue Liam Reddox or Shawn Belle would best fill the holes.
NEEDS RATHER THAN WANTS
I get the excitement generated among fans by Omark, who sits among the top scorers in the AHL with 10-7-17 in 15 games with OKC. So far, he’s more than delivered as advertised.
What I don’t get, given the needs of the roster as it stands, is ignoring the obvious shortcomings of this team to justify shoe-horning Omark into a role he’s not suited best for. Likewise, as always, the willingness of fans to be easily swayed from the game plan — that proper rebuild everybody says they want.
That rebuild, if we’re looking beyond the short-term, will include Omark in good time. Fifteen games does not nearly constitute, at least in my mind, a best-before date for him.
If the Oilers have to do without a prime penalty killer in Horcoff for a game or two and intend to put a call into OKC, it should probably be for Reddox, who is much better suited to take on what Horcoff brings. I’m told Reddox has been very good for the Barons, although he doesn’t boast the numbers Omark does.
I’d also argue that the Oilers need to take a look at Belle for their back end because I’m getting dizzy just watching overmatched Jason Strudwick and Jim Vandermeer lurching around in their own end because Renney has no other options. Enough already. You want to talk need? There it is.
My best guess is the Oilers won’t make a roster move to replace Horcoff. I think you’ll see Andrew Cogliano get more ice time, Gilbert Brule moved to centre, Ryan Jones moved up a line and Steve MacIntyre draw in to play with Colin Fraser and Zack Stortini on the fourth line.
Regardless of who slots in where when the Oilers take the morning skate in Raleigh Tuesday, clamouring for Omark, at least at this point, doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Yes, Omark, with his mad offensive skills, might be something special down the road, but we don’t know yet. Then again, he might also be Domenic Pittis. We don’t know yet. Small sample-size and all that. And who is this Marc Pouliot guy with 18 points in the AHL scoring derby?
Reddox isn’t nearly as sexy a choice as Omark right now, but he’s likely the better one up front. Likewise, Belle, or anybody who can put their skates on the proper feet and shore up a defence that’s woefully thin behind Ryan Whitney and the surprising Theo Peckham. Think needs, not wants.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.