Shawn Horcoff is listed as day-to-day with a left leg injury after clipping skates with Jack Skille during the Oilers 2-1 win in Chicago last night. Meanwhile in Oklahoma City, Linus Omark was putting on a clinic against the Toronto Marlies. Omark potted five goals in regulation and added another in the shootout to lead the Barons to a 7-6 victory.
Scoring five goals in any league will get you noticed, and I wonder how this performance will impact Omark’s ranking in the organization?
Prior to his five-goal outing, Omark had a respectable five goals and 12 points in 14 games in his rookie AHL season. The list of players who scored in the AHL but could never match that production in the NHL is longer than the wait time in emergency rooms across Edmonton right now, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Omark isn’t one of those guys.
There is no denying the 4th round pick in 2007 has incredible skill, a highly creative offensive mind and is surprisingly strong on the puck for his size. If he keeps producing he will force the Oilers to find a way to get him on the roster.
If Horcoff can’t play tomorrow in Carolina, Omark should be recalled, but due to JF Jacques’ conditioning stint the Oilers don’t have any room to bring up an offensive player. I know Omark isn’t a centre, so he won’t take Horcoff’s position on the ice, but his style of play fits into the top-nine philosophy of Tom Renney.
Renney doesn’t have a lot of options to replace Horcoff. Colin Fraser doesn’t have the skill set to play with Gilbert Brule/Dustin Penner or Magnus Paajarvi/Jordan Eberle or Taylor Hall/Ales Hemsky. The best option for Renney would be to move Brule to the middle and recall Omark.
Ryan O’Marra, Chris Vande Velde and Milan Kytnar aren’t ready to play the middle in the NHL, so the options of a centre from the farm are limited. Brad Moran would be the best centre option, but at 31-years of age I don’t see any reason to recall him ahead of Omark, who is leading the Barons in scoring.
I know many fans are going to say the Oilers should just waive JF Jacques so then Omark can take his spot on the roster. That could be an option, but the Oilers like Jacques’ size and ability to play physical. His ability to stay healthy is the issue. The trouble for the Oilers is that a five-goal game will get people talking, and if Omark continues to produce they might have no choice but to put someone on waivers and recall the 23-year-old.
The Oilers could send Eberle or Paajarvi to the minors, but I can’t see any way that happens.
A trade is the other option, and is that happens the likely candidates would be Andrew Cogliano, Zack Stortini, Ryan Jones, J.F Jacques or Penner. I’m not suggesting the Oilers are trying to trade any of these guys right now, but when you look at the depth chart and needs these seem like the most likely forwards to be shipped out if a deal arises.
Steve Tambellini doesn’t have to recall Omark right now. There is no need to rush him up here, but if Horcoff can’t play tomorrow the best option would be to have Omark in the lineup for a night. Right now the Oilers extra forwards are both 4th line guys, and while Renney will most likely bump Ryan Jones into the top-nine, I think Omark would be a better fit.
We won’t get to see Omark just yet, but something tells me that "Exciting Last Place Hockey," might get even more exciting when Omark eventually makes his NHL debut sometime this season.