Cocky. Arrogant. Brash. Uncaring.
Honest. Unencumbered. Grounded. Candid.
Pick a random Oilers' fan and ask him about Linus Omark's interviews and the responses will be all over the place. He's a young man with a world of talent and a penchant for delivering a frank interview. While playing in Europe, he was touted as a "shootout specialist" and a "Youtube sensation", but in reality, he's been so much more than that and he proved it in his first season in North America.
It's worth noting that Omark was ranked in the top 10 (top 9 in fact) by everyone, placing him #7 overall, and in a group well clear of Anton Lander. Omark's previous rank was #6, so he dropped a spot, even though Ben, Bruce and Jonathan all elevated Omark in their rankings. Scott dropped him a spot and I left him 4th overall. While I received significant flak for my lofty ranking, Omark's done plenty to earn that ranking in my eyes.
Omark's NHLE from the last four years shows how well he's produced and how much offense the Oilers can expect out of him going forward:
|Season||Team||Lge||NHLE82 G||NHLE 82 A||NHLE 82 P|
|2010-11||Barons / Oilers||AHL / NHL||12||30||42|
Those 189 points would place him 92nd in the NHL over the past four seasons, or just outside the range of a first-line forward. 38 of the 91 players in front of him were centers, meaning Omark ranks 53rd among wingers, just inside the top 60, or the top line wingers. It's not likely Omark would have played all 328 games over the last four seasons, but even his points per game numbers rate well. His NHLE P/G of .577 ranks 155th among forwards over the same period, placing him solidly among the group of 2nd-line forwards in terms of production. 59 of those forwards were centers, ranking Omark 96th among all wingers, again solidly among the 2nd-line forwards.
Omark's NHLE ranks him 5th on the Oilers over the last four seasons behind Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Shawn Horcoff and Sam Gagner. His production would have been an enormous boost to Edmonton over that time.
His goal-scoring fell off after his promotion to the NHL last year (5 goals in 51 games), but that was due to his 6.6% shooting percentage. Raise that shooting percentage to somewhere around his historical levels and his 10 goals and 22 assists in only 51 games would make a fantastic rookie season. Omark has a goal scorer's touch and I expect his goal totals to increase significantly in 2011-12. Depending on power play time, Omark should cash in with at least 50 points.
It's not just the stats that make Omark a tantalizing player -- his skill with the puck is on par with Ales Hemsky and his abilities on the boards and behind the net are on par with Dustin Penner. Omark might be smaller than the average forward, but he's impossible to knock off of the puck. He's a killer on the cycle and he's always looking to create. When he was doing it in the KHL, the reaction was muted by the fact that it was the KHL:
But when he started doing the same in Edmonton, people began to realize that Omark was for real.
He's a proven goal-scorer and play-maker with high-level puck skills. He produces like a 2nd-line forward, plays 3 inches and 30 pounds heavier than he is, and has five to six years left in his prime. Linus Omark is a keeper.
He also likes to set up behind the net, a long-lost art preferred by the best offensive talents in days gone by: