Regarding Linus

The Edmonton Oilers have tipped their hand in regard to Linus Omark.Last night, with Sam Gagner’s return to the lineup, coach Renney had several roster options but chose to sit the skilled Swede. Again. What does that tell us?

Scoring goals and directly contributing to goals scored has high value; the highest paid names in the game are the elite offensive men. Linus Omark has a nice range of skills and is a hard worker, but coach Renney has passed him over routinely in roster decisions. Last fall, Omark was sent to OKC when it was quite clear he was among the 12 best forwards available.

This season, after two healthy scratches in the first 7 games, the die is cast for Linus Omark. If he can’t make the lineup with Ales Hemsky injured then it doesn’t look good for him unless more injuries pile up.

Sam Gagner’s return meant the coach had a few options in terms of who to scratch. I suggest these were the most likely scenarios:

  • HS Anton Lander, move Belanger down to the 4line and put Gagner between Omark/Paajarvi.
  • HS Lennart Petrell, moving Belanger down to the 4line and Lander to LW on the 4line.
  • HS Magnus Paajarvi, putting Belanger between Omark and Gagner on the 3rd line.

Notice I didn’t mention an RNH scratch, doubt that was an option (Nugent-Hopkins is going to have to stop scoring goals before getting a HS). The obvious choice would be Lander, but that kid keeps showing up in the right places and is a constant source of consternation for the opponent.

So, how did coach Renney divide the minutes among wingers last night. Here is the EV evidence, with Dennis King EV scoring chances:

  1. Ryan Smyth 14:58 (7-3)
  2. Jordan Eberle 14:27 (3-3)
  3. Taylor Hall 13:01 (2-3)
  4. Ryan Jones 12:32 (5-4)
  5. Sam Gagner 10:09 (2-0)
  6. Magnus Paajarvi 9:44 (2-0)
  7. Ben Eager 7:56 (3-0)
  8. Lennart Petrell 7:50 (3-0)

Oilers outshot NYR 22-14 at evens and won the game, so it isn’t hard to imagine the same group lining up for the game on Tuesday. Even if they’d lost, who are you going to move out? Jones has settled in well on the Horcoff-Smyth line and as long as the results are there coach Renney isn’t going to mess with success.

I think the Oilers will trade Linus Omark (and it could be soon, but at this point this blog suggesting an October trade is kind of like greeting the morning sun: we do it every day) and also believe he’ll have a solid, possibly spectacular NHL career. This is a dangerous time for the Oilers and their management and fanbase. If they deal Omark because there’s no room–without waiting for a legit and satisfactory return, they run the risk of becoming the modern Houston Astros (who took the talent out with the trash routinely back in the day).

As an aside, I know that sometimes my references are obscure and when rambling on about John Mayberry, Bob Watson, Cliff Johnson and other Astros prospects it may be confusing. I’ve never met Steve Treder, but he writes wonderfully about those names and the bizarre era where talent was garbage in Houston. Part 1 and Part 2 of his look at that era are worth the read.

I’m not suggesting ST is going to be the modern Spec Richardson (although it is possible), but watching how they part with Omark and the return they get for him will be a tell. Offloading well paid veterans for prospects is one thing, but how do you put a value on Omark? And if the value isn’t there, does the GM have the courage to hold on to the asset until the opportunity is right?

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