Linus Omark could win the Calder. Seriously. He has all kinds of arrows pointed in a good direction, including maturity (he’s 23), professional experience (177 SEL and 56 KHL games) and a pretty strong resume for delivering offensively.
Omark is bona fide; not just in a “well, we don’t have anything else at the end of the batting order” kind of way but in a “Detroit finally brings over some guy” kind of way.
Why then do I project Linus Omark to play fewer than 30 NHL games this season? Easy. He’s not going to get the “organizational push.”
- Boxcars: 56gp, 20-16-36 (all numbers KHL)
- Shots: 105
- Plus Minus: -14
- Powerplay goals: 7
- What do these numbers tell us? He’s a very good offensive hockey player. 20 goals in the KHL isn’t an easy task (24 forwards scored 20 or more goals last season in the Russian league). I think he’s probably as talented offensively as someone like Robert Nilsson.
- How Could these numbers be better? Well, he’s inconsistent but that’s not terribly difficult to overlook if the goals are there at the end of every season. His -14 was the worst of any of the Dynamo forwards and trailed the men we’d think of as NHLers (Jiri Hudler -4; Mattias Weinhandl +10) so there’s that down arrow too.
- What will we notice about him? Crazy skill. He’s good, very good with the puck. I expect a lot of Oiler fans are going to find him to be a favorite before the end of training camp.
- Are you serious about the Calder? Honestly, I don’t even know if he’s eligible. NHL.com says “to be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league.” If he’s eligible, he should be on a list of possibles.
- Is he good defensively? I’ve read everything from “passable” to “great” but pretty much everyone is climbing Chomolangma without the puck when they hit the NHL the first time. I’d love to be wrong, God knows we need a capable 2-way winger. But we won’t really know until we see him. Does the offense come from cheating at the blueline? Do we see him flag at the end of a shift with the puck going the wrong way? Will he give effort when a panic rip around the boards looks like it’ll be caught by the opponent’s defenseman unless he lowers his shoulder? These are the answers we should be looking for from Linus Omark.
- How big is he? 5.09 and between 168 and 175 pounds. He’s the smallest of the men who have a real shot at the Oiler roster this fall.
- Where can he play? Any of the skill lines, and maybe a 4line on nights when Renney keeps the mountain men in the shed. I’d be interested to see if he can penalty kill and suspect Renney will try him there with one of Horcoff or Fraser this fall.
- If he can PK, does that help him? Oh hell yeah. This team doesn’t have any actual penalty killers who are wingers, so at this point the depth chart for PK includes Strudwick, Stortini and the blueline.
- Your projections are low again. Not really. If he played a full season (based on my line in the sand) Omark would be a stone’s throw from a 20-goal season.
- You compared him to Nilsson. Yeah, I think it is a really fair comp. Nilsson with the puck was a sight to behold, and this fellow’s youtube resume is terrific. Like Nilsson, he’ll have to learn the finer points of positioning and hauling ass. Unlike Nilsson, his opportunity comes when he’s a little more mature. That’s a big difference.
- Is he important to the organization? Hard to say. He could be. I don’t know that there’s a lot of pressure on the Oilers to make this one specific player work out, but there’s a big old window (two years) before he heads back to Europe as the next Jani Rita or Alexei Mikhnov. Actually, strike that. He wasn’t a first rounder, so whatever we get from here is gravy.
- How can he move up the depth chart? Well, the wingers clearly ahead of him on the skill lines are Penner, Hemsky and Brule. Hall gets the first push no matter how good any of the others are, but maybe they move Brule to C and make room for another. Then it is down to MPS, Eberle and Omark, with Cogliano somewhere in there and Ryan Jones a long shot. If I were Linus Omark I’d ask to dress in the Oilers-Canucks tilt September 22, find the tallest tree wearing that weird uniform and take a run at him. As crazy as it sounds, getting noticed early might be the key element for Linus Omark this fall.