Back in 2007 Edmonton made what in my mind could become one of the biggest steals of the NHL draft in recent years when they selected Linus Omark in the 4th round. At the time he was in his first full season of the Swedish Elite League, two years later he had scored 55pts in 53 games for Luleå and had become an internet sensation thanks to this:
Most people had hoped that Omark would take the leap over the pond in time for this season, but Omark chose Dynamo Moskva of the KHL and a chance to play with his childhood buddy Johan Harju (not to mention quite a lot of money), instead of the buses of the AHL. Omark has stated that he's not interested at all in playing for an AHL team, however his dream is to play in the NHL.
After a rough start, with rumours of him wanting to go home, things started to pick up after Dynamo changed their coach and right now he's the team leader in scoring and is posting these numbers:
|2009 - Linus Omark
He's been on a roll as of late scoring in 4 straight games and just tearing it up. He's also been involved in a mini-feud with former Luleå teammate Branko Radivojevic which Derek covered last week. One thing you can say about Omark is that he always finds ways to entertain you; be it with his stick, his skills or his (big) mouth.
As you can see from the Youtube clip he really is a flashy, creative and extremely skilled player, he looks to do things that really aren't suppose to work at this level and actually makes them happen. Linus has got a good nose for the goal, and is a natural scorer, he really has great offensive awareness and is good at finding his teammates with the pass. Sure he is lacking in size, but makes up for it with great balance, skill and he is deceptively good at holding onto the puck both in the open ice and along the boards.
That being said, he probably needs to hit the gym pretty hard if he really is going to succeed in the NHL, and Omark also needs to work on his skating, while definitively above average it could stand to be a bit more explosive, All in all, his preparations for the NHL will be quite a delicate balance.
Defensively he's improving, his great hockey-sense tends to bail him out, but he needs work in this area. Added strength will benefit him in this area as well.
So when will we see Omark in Edmonton? My guess is next season as long as we move some of the current smurfs, AND this is the big one.....
Edmonton gives him a one way deal, I don't think there is any chance of Omark playing in Springfield, he's made it quite clear that minor league hockey does not interest him. Now one can argue if Omark has shown enough to warrant a deal like that, there is quite a bit of difference between playing in relatively soft leagues like the SEL or the KHL and the more physical NHL, especially for someone as small of stature as Omark. But for my money I'd love to have him on the Oilers, he's a proven scorer in two different leagues and on the national team plus he's one of the most entertaining players around, just make sure he's not your first option for defense on that line.