Linus Omark is listed at 5.10, 174 on the Edmonton Oilers site. Why then is he so strong on the puck? Low center of gravity? Desire? Pluck? Pluuck? Hell if I know.
Omark found a partner in crime when placed on a line with Magnus Pääjärvi around Christmas. They played mostly with Sam Gagner in the middle, although I’m not certain that’s a good fit.
After being sent down (and muttering all the way to the airport) Omark ripped up Oklahoma (once scoring 5 goals in 1 game to imbed the first Baron legend in the OKC hockey fan) and eventually earned his recall to the NHL. Omark played 28% of his season (EVs) with Gagner and the Finnish Swede. Omark made an impression, although I think the heart of his career will be played on a line with a better finisher.
- 5×5 points per 60: 1.78 (4th-tie among regular forwards)
- 5×4 points per 60: 3.35 (7th among regular forwards)
- Qual Comp: easiest faced among regular forwards
- Qual Team: poorest available teammates among regular forwards
- Corsi Rel: 8.2 (3rd best among regular forwards)
- Zone Start: 53.4% (3rd easiest among regular forwards)
- Zone Finish: 50.6% (8th best among regular forwards)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 76/6.6% (15th among F’s but DNQ)
- Boxcars: 51gp, 5-22-27
- Plus Minus: -16 on a team that was -52
- What do these numbers tell us? Omark is skilled and there’s evidence in his rookie numbers. His 5×5/60 is well inside this team’s top 6 and his CorsiRel is 3rd best among forwards. He did face soft opposition, but he also played with subpar linemates according to behind the net (I think we can question the qual comp/team numbers this season but he wasn’t playing with Hall, Eberle, Penner or Hemsky).
- How could these numbers be better? I’ve seen a few places mention his poor scoring rate but his scoring rates in the KHL and SEL were much better. Omark’s plus minus is poor and he is a high event player so some of those down arrows are probably due to his rookie performance. All within the realm of the easily explained.
- He can win battles. It’s the most interesting thing about him. He’s like a Sedin-light, it must be a low center of gravity or maybe he’s strong in the trunk of has an extra bag of sand somewhere. Either way he can stickhandle in tight areas, make people look silly and he’s freakishly strong in puck battles. These are all good things.
- If he’s so special why did they send him down in the first place? Asked and answered in August and he clearly had an impact because the club brought him back pretty soonafter the season got rolling. Linus the pinus is going to have an NHL career.
- Will it be as an Oiler? I am beginning think so. He changed my mind during the season. Omark at this point has a chance to play on one of the skill lines along with (probably) Hall, Eberle and Pääjärvi. They might move Gagner or Cogiliano over but Omark showed enough to earn another full season.
- What about his checking? His what now? I don’t think Omark is going to be an instant Red Wing winger, but he has some nice things that make him a good candidate for intelligent puck management. Strong on the boards, lots of battle and he can scoot. Omark turns over the puck in bad places but he’s a rookie and those things happen. He’ll drive his coach crazy but I don’t think he’ll be cherry picking ala Robert Nilsson when he’s been in the league 200 games.
- He’s head strong. Maybe he’s not coachable? I think we need to agree on his “attitude.” Omark was sent down in front of MPS, Brule, Jones, MacIntyre and Stortini (along with Hall, Eberle, Penner and Hemsky). How would you feel if you’re Omark and lost your NHL job to one of those guys? Wouldn’t you feel as though there was something going on? I think he showed excellent judgement, and not even waiver worries could really justify that decision. Also, his recent disappointment in regard to being sent to the AHL instead of being able to play for his country shows that he’s not exactly Derek Sanderson. Omark is not a 20-year old kid, he’s a man with international experience and I’d suggest it was natural for him to expect that team Sweden was his springtime goal. He expressed disappointment and then went to OKC. I think Omark–should he emerge as a quality NHL player–will also emerge as a team leader. He’s not getting into trouble looking for teammates on the road (and not coming back) and he’s not missing flights or barely at the airport on time (which has happened over the years to kids). Omark, based on what we know, isn’t some dumb kid. He’s a man with a mind of his own. It’s a good thing.
- Where does he rank on the RW depth chart? Third, behind Hemsky and Eberle. No sin there, those are two good hockey players. Omark can make things happen in the offensive zone and that will give him a long leash in Edmonton and very likely another NHL chance should it go south in our town.
- How important is he to the Oilers? He could be very important. If Linus Omark can make enough plays that result in goals and improve his positioning without the puck (which you can say about pretty much every Oiler forward) then there’s a player here.