The Spengler Cup (Abercio/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0)
This morning, Linus Omark tweeted that he had a new team: Zug, of the top Swiss league. While his detractors undoubtedly will imagine that as the beginning of the rest of his career in Europe, Omark actually chose Zug specifically to enable him to return to the NHL.
Dan Tencer fills in some of the gaps via Twitter:
Linus Omark’s agent Patrik Aronsson tells me that they turned down multiple KHL offers and felt Zug was the best fit to get back to the NHL.
Aronsson says that Omark is looking forward to playing a full season of games and is totally focused on one day playing full time in NHL.
I got the sense from Aronsson that a) the pending lockout + b) the Oilers still owning his rights = easy decision to sign overseas for now.
Martin Lunden, also known around the blogs as dohfOs, fills in some more of that picture by translating a piece in a Swedish newspaper. The full quote is here, but here’s an excerpt:
I’ve decided to return to Europe due to the lockout. It’s an especially bad timed lockout for me (personally), seeing I was injured for the majority of last season. Had this been one year ago, I might have been traded earlier – before I got hurt. Basically all I want is to play hockey but if this lockout turns out to be for just 2 months my situation will be even worse. I want to play in the NHL and that’s it. But at this moment, all I can do is to have one heck of a season (in Switzerland) and hopefully that could open up for a return (to the NHL).
Zug and the top Swiss league will be Omark’s fifth club as a professional; he’s previously played in Sweden (with Lulea), in Russia (Moscow), in the AHL (Oklahoma) and of course also has 65 NHL games under his belt with the Oilers.
At this point, a solid season in Switzerland would be the best for all parties. The Oilers obviously haven’t dealt Omark because they haven’t been able to get a decent offer for him; I doubt very much it’s because they see him as a vital part of their long-term plans. If Omark can play well, and catch the attention of some NHL team, then he might get another NHL opportunity sooner rather than later because the Oilers will have a better shot at moving his rights (although the odds of that happening aren’t great. Check out other NHL odds here).