Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Future of Linus Omark

With Linus Omark being banished to the press box for the second time this young season, it appears the talented Swede may be in jeopardy of losing his spot in the starting  lineup. One can understand the move, as many of  the Oilers forwards are the same in stature and play a similar style of game. That being the case, I would be rather disappointed to see the highly skilled forward moved to a different organization...especially when they would receive very little of value in return.

While much can be read into early season moves, many times they do not amount to much of anything. The situation with Linus Omark, may be one of those exceptions. Of all the forwards on the Edmonton Oilers roster, Omark is the only one that has seen regular duty in the top nine but is still finding himself in the coach's dog house or a healthy scratch.

With injuries to both Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner in the early going, you would have thought that Omark would have been given an opportunity to play with some of the more talented players on the team but that hasn't been the case. The 23 year-old winger did see time on the top line with Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins against the Flames but it was more of a forced marriage for trio then anything else and the results confirmed as much. Linus would likely excel on a line with a shooter and another bigger body that goes hard to net. While the Oilers do have players that fit that bill, Omark will not get the chance to play with them on a regular basis. He is not viewed as a priority by the organization and simply won't get those looks.

He typically has played 5-on-5 with Magus Paajarvi and usually one of Shawn Horcoff or Eric Belanger. It did seem odd that the Swedes got little to no time with either centre during pre-season to develop some sort of chemistry but that was the route the coaching staff decided to go. Many felt the development of Omark would help determine what Edmonton would do with Hemsky, the organization obviously sees things differently.

No one knows for sure if Omark has the ability to be a top six forward but most feel he has the potential of being a third line guy who specializes on the power play. Problem being, is that power play specialist spot is going to be held by their first line centre for a very long time. Add in the likes of Taylor Hall, Eberle, Ryan Smyth, Gagner and Hemsky and there doesn't seem to be a fit for him on the current roster. If we look into the near future, it doesn't seem much better. At least four to five of the names mentioned above will be here next season and they will have to make a spot for Teemu Hartikainen, who will be a power play guy for sure, and likely one or both Paajarvi and Anton Lander on the man advantage.

The numbers do seem stacked against the diminutive winger unless the Oilers decide to make a deal for a franchise defenceman using one or two of their youngsters. That seems unlikely and it will ultimately force Edmonton to move Linus Omark to another NHL city...hopefully in the Eastern Conference.

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