One should never read too much into NHL exhibition games because at the end of the day, they do not mean a thing. That being said, I am still somewhat stunned at the lack of jump Linus Omark has shown. During his rookie campaign the Swedish forward showed inconsistencies in his effort level on a game by game basis. I have little doubt that much of that was brought on by the frustration of having his ice time limited and not always being given the opportunity to play with linemates that suited his skill set.
With Omark being given a legit shot at earning a top nine role with guaranteed power play time, I find it rather troubling that he has looked as disinterested as he has, in his first two pre-season appearances. In the opener against Minnesota, he played on a line with fellow countrymen Magnus Paajarvi and Anton Lander and while the line had a good night, his performance was average at best. In outing number two, he was invisible all night, in his defence, the team as a whole was down right awful against the Canucks. Playing on a line with Paajarvi and centre Shawn Horcoff, you would think he would be trying to make an impression on the coaching staff. These would be his likely linemates once the season starts but there was nothing from the young Swede. Even if it were subtle things that he knows the coaching staff are looking for, ex: being on the right side of the puck in the Oilers half of the ice, instead we have seen a player that seems almost bored out there.
It may be because these games are meaningless and he will turn it on when the points start counting. That mindset is not uncommon amongst players and one could easily argue that it is the norm...rather then the exception. The problem is, Omark does not have a spot guaranteed on this club, he has to earn it. The talented winger has two things working against him:
- The Oilers lack of size upfront
- Shortage of quality penalty killers amongst the forwards
If the organization decides to hit the panic button and make this sort of move, in my opinion, they will end up regretting it down the road. I feel a player with the talent Linus Omark posses, should be given every opportunity to develop his game and the team has to accept his game for what it is, warts and all. That being said, once a player is given a chance he needs to seize the opportunity and make the most of it.