I’ll admit it: I thought Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish was going to be able to trade Linus Omark this summer. Part of that’s probably because I have more time for Omark than others – I always enjoyed his skill, saw him as a “hard on the puck” player and felt his defensive deficiencies were blown out of proportion.
But I didn’t think Omark was going to be traded because he’s a no-brainer ‘must be in the NHL’ player. I thought Omark was going to be traded because he’s cheap.
With NHL teams allowed to spend more than $70 million in 2013, and only $64.3 million in 2013-14, it didn’t take much in the way of complex calculation to know that some teams were going to find themselves in budget trouble this off-season.
Consider the Los Angeles Kings, a team rumoured to be willing to trade Kyle Clifford because they simply don’t have the cap space. Consider Toronto, a team supposedly interested in moving Cody Franson because they’re going to have trouble signing Franson and Nazem Kadri. Even a team not supposedly looking to shed talent, the Vancouver Canucks, seems to be banking on dirt cheap NHL additions and players on entry-level deals to round out the roster.
Linus Omark destroyed Switzerland’s top league both during and after the NHL lockout, scoring at a comparable rate to Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg. He’s consistently been a high-end offensive player everywhere he’s been – the AHL, Russia, Sweden – and even at the NHL level he has picked up 30 points in 65 games.
The following is what his track record looks like using Rob Vollman’s new NHL equivalencies (adjusted as they were in yesterday’s Jesse Joensuu piece). For those unfamiliar, NHL equivalencies use the track record of previous players making the jump from other leagues to the NHL to establish a performance baseline of what to expect from players in those leagues.
Aside from 2011-12 – an exceptional year in that Omark had a nasty injury and ended up playing less than 20 games in any one league – Omark’s scoring record indicates a guy who can probably pick up between 40 and 50 points in an NHL season.
With the salary cap dropping and teams finding themselves in sticky cap situations, my thoughts went roughly like this:
- Linus Omark has warts, but he’s a talented guy who seems a decent bet as an auxiliary scorer in the right situation.
- Omark had a six-figure contract the last time around; it seems likely that an NHL team willing to offer a one-way deal could probably get him for $1.0 million or less.
- For a team in a nasty cap situation, penciling Omark in as a top-six or top-nine forward might be a way to squeeze more money for players at other positions.
The fact that it hasn’t happened would seem to indicate that those teams in a salary cap bind simply don’t see Omark as enough of a player to pencil him in for that job. All of which means that if Omark has his heart set on the NHL he may need to do what players like David Vyborny and Espen Knutsen did: wait for the next wave of NHL expansion.
Recently around the Nation Network
Speaking of teams in a salary cap bind, Cam Charron explains at Leafs Nation how three key rules apply to Mark Fraser’s upcoming arbitration hearing:
Per Article 12.10 (a) in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Maple Leafs can NOT walk away from an arbitrator ruling of BELOW $3.5-million. Per Article 50.5 (d) (i) (B) (6) in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you subtract $900K from ANY contract that goes to the minors. The team can STILL negotiate with Mark Fraser up until 9:00 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow.
Click the link above to read more. Otherwise, feel free to read some of my recent pieces: