Sunday, February 19, 2012
Does Linus Omark Fit Into The Oilers Future Plans?
Ever since he made his debut with the Edmonton Oilers, Linus Omark has held a soft spot in the hearts of many Oiler fans. The diminutive winger has a very special skill set and is arguably the most talented of all the youngsters currently in the Oilers stable. Having just recently turned twenty-five years old, Omark is older then the core group but still fits the mold of what has now become the prototype for Edmonton Oiler forwards.
With the additions of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Smyth being brought into the mix this season, Linus did not get much of shot to prove his worth and has seemed to become nothing more than an after thought for the organization. Considering they sent him down to the minors after only five games, tells me the plan was never for him to be part of the equation this season.
Shortly after being demoted to Oklahoma City, Omark broke his ankle and remained out of the Barons lineup until February 9th. Since returning from injury, he has played four games and has managed to score three times while collecting five points. He is starting to find his groove after missing nearly three months and with the NHL Trade Deadline just around the corner, the talented Swede will surely find himself back in Edmonton. While the kid has warts to his game, he should be nowhere near the AHL and should be learning from his mistakes at the NHL level. Having said that, if Omark receives the call back up to Edmonton and proves his worth over the final twenty or so games, would he have a legitimate shot at earning a regular spot in 2012-2013?
At this stage of the game, it is pretty clear that if Linus were to make this club, it will have to be as a top six forward. Some had thought, myself included, that he could possibly fit as a third line guy who specialized on the power play but with this clubs lack of size upfront, they can not afford the luxury of having a player that size in their bottom six.
If we take a look into the Oilers crystal ball, we can safely assume Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins all are locks for top six roles. If Edmonton decides to move Ales Hemsky at the deadline and re-sign Sam Gagner, that would leave two spots open in the top six. One would have to think, that one of those spots will be given to Magnus Paajarvi. The twenty year old would be headed into his third full season and it would seem logical for him to get a full time shot at top line minutes. That brings it down to one vacant spot and the chances of this team not adding a veteran forward to play on the top two lines is basically zero.
Clearly, the situation doesn't look good for Omark but if he were to show that he could be a difference maker on a nightly basis, he would force management to reconsider. If Linus is that good, perhaps they seriously look at moving Gagner + to try and acquire that first pairing defenceman they so desperately need. Not exactly a likely scenario but one that would have to be considered, if it were to present itself.
No matter how you look at it, it appears very unlikely that Linus Omark will be a member of the Edmonton Oilers organization come the start of next season. If the club believes they have better options upfront then the gifted winger, then by all means, ship him out and let the kid try luck elsewhere. The issue I have, is they may very well move him to another team before ever giving him a legitmate opportunity to show what he could do with other highly skilled forwards...and it might be a decision that comes back to haunt them.