To Whom It May Concern

There is a growing market for inexpensive forwards who can help move the needle offensively. Detroit, Carolina and possibly Boston, with the list growing daily. Throughout the NHL, the word is out: the goalies are ahead of the snipers and teams are looking for solutions. One of those possible solutions is available via Edmonton.
 

During the RE series this past summer, I detailed why Linus Omark is a player of interest:

  •  By eye and by math he appears to be a real hockey player. A guy like Nilsson looked all world with the puck one minute and then disappeared for the rest of the game. Omark flies sorties every shift. They don’t work out all of the time, but there’s a tremendous amount of try. He’s hard on the puck and works like a bugger. He can stickhandle in a phone booth and can beat people wide and inside. On a team with crazy skill, Omark is his own unique individual. He’s his own man, very confident and skilled.

In checking last season’s Oiler forwards (not exactly the ’75 Habs, but they had talent), Omark scored well in an important discipline:
 

5×5/60 (behind the net) 10-11

  1. Ales Hemsky 2.88
  2. Sam Gagner 1.91
  3. Jordan Eberle 1.79
  4. Linus Omark 1.78
  5. Taylor Hall 1.78
  6. Shawn Horcoff 1.47
  7. Ryan Jones 1.38
  8. Magnus Paajarvi 1.36
  9. Andrew Cogliano 1.33

So far this season, Omark and several others can’t get the ball out of the infield (Gagner, Paajarvi are also at nil 5×5). In yesterday’s ask Matty, Jim Matheson wrote the following:

  • I don’t think it’s fair to write off Omark, who hasn’t done anything wrong but keeps sitting because of numbers. When Hemsky returns in a week, the Oilers will have to do something with the right-winger Omark, who has National Hockey League skill. Unless I’m reading the collective bargaining agreement incorrectly, if Omark plays 60 NHL games, he has to clear waivers to be sent to the Oklahoma City Barons. He’s was too good for the AHL last season. If they’re caring, they’ll deal him somewhere else. The Carolina Hurricanes are looking for forwards.

Matheson mentions Carolina, but there are several (Boston, Detroit, Winnipeg, etc) NHL teams looking for quality offense. Many of those clubs are cap teams, so will be scouting quality offensive players with low cap hits. Omark is making $875,000, a very reasonable contract. The Oilers don’t have a lot of room to make moves with this player, he can opt out and back to Sweden should they try to send him down (he could also accept a demotion).

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

My opinion? Omark is perfect Hemsky insurance and the Oilers should find a way to get him back into the lineup. I understand staying the course when the team is winning, and also understand Ales Hemsky is back soon and that will mean someone coming out of the linup–a lineup that already excludes Omark.

If enough wingers have passed Omark on the depth chart, then dealing him is the prudent thing to do; he’s not going to sign here to be a HS for the NHL team next year. So, with free agency ahead, what do the Oilers do? I would hope they resolve the Hemsky situation one way or another before the deadline and then trade or elevate Omark based on the Hemsky conclusion.

I don’t think Omark makes it to the deadline. Some NHL team is going to acquire a player with impressive skills and a burr under his saddle. He does have some work to do, but I can see a team like Detroit teaching him the things required to stay in the lineup.

I don’t think Steve Tambellini gets 100 cents on the dollar. Linus Omark is far more valuable than his original draft number.

  • book¡e

    The ‘not changing the lineup when the team is winning’ is about as logical as not changing your underwear when the team is winning, it is basically superstition.

    I mean, I wouldn’t want to see the team throw the lines into the blender or mix everything up, but swapping a player out is not likely to have any cost in terms of team chemistry.

    • Jerk Store

      Au contrare. It may be a cliche, but it is truly a game of inches. Pulling a guy off a line is going to effect the chemistry of the whole line and given that the Oilers (notwithstanding the Blues) have not scored a lot of goals, they cannot afford to give up bad goal because someone was not where they were supposed to be. It is not superstion – it is pragmatic.

      • book¡e

        Yes, who would want to affect the chemistry of a line that is not scoring any goals, it might accidentally result in them scoring goals and that would wreck everything.

        • Jerk Store

          People forget scoring is 1/2 the game. Actually less than half as not getting scored on is just as important plus special teams play. Tell me oh sage one, who are you prepared to pull out of this line up to play a guy who does not have a point and is a defensive liability? Understand I also want to either a) See if Omark can play or b) increase his trade value. But tinkering with a winning lineup makes one a member of the “not smart” club. As a coach why would you want to open yourself up to that and potentially lose the momentum you have? Easy to say when it is not your job on the line.

  • 1983 and This Year

    If Omark is sent down he’s off to the SEL. Book it. Get something back for him, Gags, or Hemsky while you can.

    Oh, and I’m an Omark supporter. He fits into the long term plan more than Gags or Hemsky IMO.

  • Aendayana

    I think we all agree we would not get full value on Omark if we dealt him now. So that leaves either play him to showcase him or work with him to shape him into a contributing member of this hockey team. How you ask? I still don’t get why we don’t let the swedish kids play together. This game (as pretty much everything in life is) is all about confidence and while we have no qualms about about putting the other kids together, there seems to be a resistance to do it with these guys. I just don’t understand why not give it a try, at least for getting Paajarvi going. Right now, we have the Smitty line doing great secondary scoring, eventually we’ll need an other option in a couple of years. I believe MPS and Lander are building blocks for the future, players that an organization like Detroit would get great contribution out of for years. Right now though, they could achieve multiple objectives by some line shuffling. This could help Omark’s trade value or get him a permanent spot on the team.
    Second of all this whole Hemsky vs Omark.
    I’ve always loved 83, I wasn’t fortunate enough to be around for the glory days, so him, 94 and 39 were my favourites. But we have to admit Hemsky’s injury problems are a big concern. I’m not sure if Omark could ever develop as well as Hemsky, but at this point he is more durable. We also do have a legit first-line so I believe 83 might have to be a better bargaining chip. Sorry for the long post.
    GO OILERS GO!!!

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Point of order:

    can I get a ruling on who has to pass waivers to get sent down

    and

    who can opt to return to Europe if they don’t like their station over here??

    It’s is hard to game out situations without this knowledge at the ready.

    On a related note, would it be possible to beef-up the Numbers site with more information of this nature. a kind of all-purpose resource? There’s a lot of technical stuff about contracts and on-ice rules that as a fan I have only a slim grasp of… (i know I can get this elsewhere… but c’mon, i’m lazy and i like it here…)

  • A-Mc

    I like Omark. I’m having a hard time with the fact that he’s in the press box so often. There are a significant number of players that aren’t contributing any offense for the team thus far, so it seems rather unlikely to me that lines are unable to be shuffled to give Omark a chance to prove himself.

    when it comes to trades: Gagner or Omark, I’d trade Gagner if in a few weeks he cant seem to get his Act together.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    A decision needs to be made. I just hope the Oil think it through long-term. The oilers have a glut of smallish, skilled forwards some of whom have emerged as world-class players that you can build a team around (the kid line most noticably) the others need to be evaluated both as individual players and as a group moving forward.

    The Oil needs to stop cycling through these types of players – off the top my head the last few years we’ve boasted O’Sullivan, Nilsson, Schremp, Lupul, Cogliano and the list goes on (those are only the players that have moved on, we still have a bundle of these types of players in the system – O’Marra, Brule, Omark, etc, etc.)

    Some of these players simply aren’t going to make the NHL anywhere, some won’t make it in Oiler colors… I just hope we stop cycling through them seemingly hoping one or two will catch fire. We need to take a global perspective: what does the team need, which set of players best addresses that need; recognize that and move toward that goal with vigor!

    It just doesn’t seem like we are moving with purpose. Instead it looks like we are shooting fish in a barrel with this type of player and the individual situation with Omark tells a tale. THere is no way he is on a path to success sitting on the bench. Put him on a path to success in the organization or figure out a way to maximize the returns for him (and a 3rd round pick for an NHL ready forward with flash isn’t going to do it).

  • Jerk Store

    I agree it would be nice to get Linus some ice, but who do you pull out of the lineup to play O? The Oil have won 5 straight. Gagner and Eager did not have training camps and to me look like they are finally getting up to speed. Paajarvi has not done anything offensively but he has looked great at times and is responsible defensively. Lander has done everything asked of him. Belanger, while his offensive well has seemingly run dry is killing it in the dot and PK. And Petrell leads the team in hits and is a PK mensch. So who does that leave, Jones?

    I am not an Omark hater but I do not see who he bumps from this lineup. Do you sacrifice messing with a winning lineup to potentially increase a guys trade value? A risky proposition, unless he scores, which is far from a slam dunk. It is indeed a problem . . . . which I suppose the whole point of your article.

    So using your logic that this should be done prior to Hemsky’s return why not just “pretend” Omark is “Hemsky”? – somewhere Arch just burst a blood vessel in his brain. Note I said pretend. What I would do, with my vast years of NHL coaching experience would be to leave the kids obviously, play Smyth – Horcoff – Omark (dressed in a Hemsky Halloween costume) as your second line, Third line would become Gagner (C) – Paajarvi – Jones and 4th line of Petrell – Belanger – Eager. Sorry Lander but you are really the only guy who can be sent down. Risky move, but barring injury Omark either sits or this is how it plays out. My two cents.

  • Oiler Country

    Bang on Lowetide!!

    Omark belongs on this team and they should look at him as Hemsky 2, smaller, but almost as skilled. His defensive shortcomings can be fixed because, to me, it’s not all that glaring. He just needs to learn and fix the problems.

    The problem I do foresee is Omark has an ego, a large one. Will he allow his ego to be dropped a peg or two to see that there are issues to his overall game?

    Time will tell, but agreed. Omark is an oiler and should remain that way!

    One thing is for sure. Drop Omark and we’ll (we’ll as in the oilers faithful and oilers organization) regret it.

  • justDOit

    The Oilers have to look at demoting Lander before giving up on Omark, upon Hemsky’s return. While he has held his own more-or less, he has to provide more to hold a position. 6th option on the PK, and Cogliano bad at faceoffs with no offence does not justify getting rid of a guy who scored at a 43 point pace in his 1st NHL season. Lander will be a big part of the future, I am sure but could use some AHL seasoning.
    This team will at some point soon need more than two lines that can contribute offensively, as the goaltending will not stay this hot all season.
    Once Jones is not on the Smyth line, I would expect a quick fall-off in his play. Not sure why the Paajarvi-Belanger-Omark line didn’t work when tried but these guys have shown ability to provide more secondary offense than they have put up this season. The Swedes with Gagner, was a disaster last season as well so obviously a tough decision on how to make up lines 3 and 4.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      The problem with your assessment with Lander is he is being played on the 4th line and playing that role exceedingly well. He backchecks with ferocity, plays with a lot of jam and seems to get under the skin of opposing teams. For the role he’s playing he seems NHL ready to me. Also, I don’t recall his write-ups ever mentioning stellar scoring talent. More that he is a two-way defensive, energy guy (like a young Peca).

      Him and Omark aren’t good comparables and can’t be swapped so easily IMO.

      Also most people around here who champion the return of Omark suggest the Swede line. That keeps lander and pushes out either Gagner or Belanger (or someone else if Gags stays on the wing).

      I’m not sure you can put Belanger between MP and Omark long term… he’s too slow to keep up and doesn’t have the offensive flare. And you’re right Gagner doesn’t look great with them either… It’s a real pickle.

      But… i’m not sure Lander sliding out solves the problem… because

      1) he’s not really playing an offensive role right now… and is playing his role well

      2) if you take him out who centers the MP/Omark line? he’d seem like the best option for that line anyway.

  • shanetrain

    The problem is even getting to trade deadline. The article makes a good point about the numbers, but I wouldn’t necessarily just focus on Omark. Depending on what the return can be, we have to consider one or more of Hemsky, Gagner, or Omark. Not crazy about parting with any one of them, but something has to give…

    • justDOit

      That would be more productive. She(he?) hasn’t been right about anything since… July 1? But here I am, still checking those tweets.

      And no news on Sutton yet? How long does it take Shanny to produce those punishment videos, anyway?

  • Lowetide

    I’d definately be hanging on to Omark if I’m Tambo, at least at this point in time.
    We’re playing well right now, and Hemsky is due back on this road trip, but there’s no doubt we’ll need a foward to come into the lineup at some point.
    Maybe after this season – or the trade deadline – we’ll have a better idea of what we need/don’t need.
    But his salary, skill and effort make him worth hanging on to.

  • Lowetide

    I was impressed with the level of try that Omark exhibited last season. That, and a few flashes of brilliance, makes me think that perhaps the level of return would be greater if Gagner were on the way out instead of Omark. I’ve always been a Gagner supporter but with Belanger and RNH in the fold, finding an appropriate spot for Gagner is more difficult. Plus Gagner should return more in terms of assets than Omark.

    • shanetrain

      I agree with this 100%.

      With the surplus of talented small guys the time is now to strike!

      Any combo of Hemsky, Gagner and perhaps a young Dman for Mr Shea Weber would get this ship cruising? How could Poile resist?

      I would hate to see Omark leave right now. Although older, I see Omark being a more effective player than Sam.

      • Wax Man Riley

        @ Tiger Under Glass

        (sorry shanetrain)

        Ya, nobody suggests trades for Weber involving Gagner. Or Omark.

        In literature, hyperbole is used for effect, and I use it here to highlight the hype that Omark gets in Oil country. I have seen worse trades proposed than the fictional one I suggested.

        If I remember correctly, Pronger still had to sign in Edmonton, so we traded for his rights, so I guess anything is possible. Now do you trade Hemsky and Gagner for Weber with no guarantee he signs here?

    • Lowetide

      Yeah, I think it’s important for the Oilers to think this through. I’m not implying that they aren’t doing their due diligence, but it seems to me the organization sometimes makes moves based on expiring contracts as opposed to making the right call on players.

      Omark is good.