Linus Omark signed with the Edmonton Oilers yesterday, giving GM Steve Tambellini four new hires from the top of the prospect tree for the (approx) 50 pro players who will play in the NHL and in Oklahoma City in 2010-11. Jeff Petry is a highly regarded college defenseman, Chris Vande Velde is a true center with size, grit and some skill, and Jordan Eberle is the most famous prospect in the system.
Omark is yet another undersized skill player with quick hands and high creatitvity with the puck. The Oilers have been developing these players 6-at-a-time for a few years now and boast a plethora on the major league team at this time. There is some evidence to suggest Omark’s timing (in signing now) is very good and in this way the Swede is not at all similar to Rob Schremp (who kept getting passed by small skill guys every fall until the Islanders plucked him off waivers).
There are several reasons why I think Omark has good timing. First, the club has had an opportunity to evaluate all of the skill kids who were holding back Schremp. Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson, Brule, O’Sullivan and a few others have had their 500 at-bats (or more) with the big club and shown what they can do in all areas. A guess would have Gagner and Brule (along with the veteran Comrie) as likely to return, and Nilsson, Cogliano and O’Sullivan to be shown the door. Eberle and Omark will be looking to make the big club, perhaps vying for the same roster spot.
Second, the organization appears to have lost its taste for bringing kids straight from junior and college to the show. A quick look at 2007 fall tells us that Sam Gagner (18-year old junior) and Andrew Cogliano (20-year old NCAA) were elevated for reasons other than development and both players may have suffered because of it. Certainly the Oilers will be forced into an earlier “big payday” for Gagner because he started burning his NHL seasons at age 18 (instead of 20) and Cogliano has been running in place for some time now. 2007-08 was also Tom Gilbert’s rookie season, but he was 24 as a rookie and had plenty of college experience (plus one full year pro).
If the Oilers were to follow the 2007 template, then we’d be seeing Paarjavi-Svensson, Hall/Seguin and Eberle all break camp with the big club this fall. That could still happen (these are the Oilers) but players like Omark and Vande Velde make it less likely.
Omark has been tracking very well as an offensive player for several years now. Here are his Desjardins’ NHL equivalencies:
- (Age 19) 82gp, 10-12-22 (.268)
- (Age 20) 82gp, 13-23-36 (.439)
- (Age 21) 82gp, 21-29-50 (.610)
- (Age 22) 82gp, 20-15-35 (.427)
His offense is a really good comp for Robert Nilsson (who was a good comp for Rob Schremp, except fast). Good speed, good hands, looks like he might be a little more the scorer than Kenta’s boy. I don’t think we should expect Omark to make the big club this fall but he’ll certainly get a long look.
Based on the numbers and the scouting report, he’s earned it.