When it comes to shootouts, Linus Omark makes Rob Schremp look like Jason Strudwick. He's a highlight reel superstar with an entire bag of dipsys and doodles, stops and goes, heres and theres and now-you-see-it-now-you-don'ts. When NHL players need a new move, they steal from Omark. Unlike Schremp, however, Omark has already established himself as a player, at least in Europe.
The problem with expecting too much out of Omark is the same problem that plagues seemingly every Oiler drafted from 2006 - 2009 - he's small, extremely small. Omark is 5'9" on his toes and 176 lbs soaking wet after participating in a pie-eating contest. His size hasn't been a detriment on the larger ice surfaces of the Swedish Elite League and the Kontinental Hockey League, but the smaller surfaces of North America might neutralize his skill game completely.
His scouting reports call him "feisty", but is a little bit of pest combined with a lot of skill enough to survive against much larger players in a much smaller space? It's a bet that I, Bruce and Scott are all making.
Omark falls three spots from last season, mostly due to new arrivals and Jonathan dropping him from eight to eleven. Ben raised him one spot and the rest of us dropped him one spot.
|2007 - Linus Omark
|2008 - Linus Omark
|2009 - Linus Omark
*Indicates NHLE82 equivalency
It looks to many as though Omark's production dropped off when he jumped to the KHL, but as a percentage of total offense,Omark scored 12% of Dynamo's goals and 15% of Lulea's goals. I have no explanation for the huge falloff in his assist rate.
He was also a -14 for Dynamo Moscow, which looks terrible, especially considering that Dynamo outscored their opponents 166-151 and teammate Jiri Hudler was only -4. However, a closer look at Dynamo's scoring shows that they outscored their opponents 57-31 on the power play and 9-4 short-handed, meaning that they were outscored 100-116 at even strength. Dynamo scored 34.3% of their goals on the power play and Omark scored 35% of his goals on the power play.
There are three significant concerns for Omark at this point:
- He was -8 in his last 14 games of the regular season in the KHL
- He didn't follow that up with a strong World Championship Tournament. He had one goal and three assists in nine games, while younger teammate Magnus Paajarvi had five goals and four assists in the same nine games.
- Omark's shooting percentage took an enormous leap forward in the last two seasons - from 9.1% in 2007 to 18.7% in 2008 and 19% in 2009. Does he possess true shooting talent, or are those numbers an aberration and his NHL numbers are still likely to fall in the 13 goals, 24 assists range that he produced in 2007?
Johan worked up an excellent scouting report on Omark last year, and had an interview killed by Dynamo at the last minute. In the scouting report he noted:
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...
If Omark makes the team, he seems a sure bet to play second unit power play minutes with Taylor Hall and Gilbert Brule. He's got size to overcome and he's in tough against a number of younger, larger, faster wingers, but his skill level, combined with his power play prowess may give him an early leg up.