Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Problem with Linus


Alright - his comments have sparked a needless debate about his character. Dan Tencer, pre-eminent Oilers commenter and trustworthy soul, used the new Reuters, Twitter, to express this: 

Linus Omark does not want to play for OKC in the AHL playoffs. "I play better if I'm happy and I'll be more happy at the World's." 
Here's the actual quote from the Edmonton Journal:
"Not really. I want to compete for a spot in the world championship in Sweden and I will go to the (Swedes') camp if they (Oilers) let me.
"Of course, I would like to win something down there (AHL), but I play better when I am happy and I'm more happy at the world championship."
This, by the way, is in response to news that he's being shopped around as well as he'll have to hit the waiver wire. Just goes to show you can't always take anything with the word "twit" in it at face value.

Yes, but wait a second... This is a good time to discuss something, something that is essential to the progress of the team.

He's not waiver eligible anymore (we can't send him down without other teams being able to put a claim on him), he can go back to Sweden anytime he's assigned, and this is not the guy we can scratch every night a la Hordichuk. Depth is good, but this is a touch different - what on earth are we supposed to do with this guy?

Question: What do our lines look like right now?
When healthy, the first line is Hall-Nuge-Eberle.
Second line, all of a sudden, is Hartski-Gags-Hemmer
Currently, the third line is Petrell-Horcoff-Smyth, but Omark's been in Petrell's spot - the line HAS been clicking - Jones is currently doing a stint on the first line, but he's either here or in Hordi's spot one line lower.
The fourth line is Hordi-Belanger-Eager. Let's be honest, as much as I like Eager, this line is moot.

Where does he fit?

Omark is not a career third liner, let's be honest. Smyth - he's a guy who has played in the Top 6 for the majority of his career, but his illustrious career is winding down. Horcoff - he's been up and down the lineup but his faceoff ability and relative inability to bury rebounds makes him a third line centre, in competition with Belanger.

Does Omark fit there?

So say Lowebellini chooses to draft a defenceman. We're likely going to finish with at least the third overall pick, so lets go with Ryan Murray, who by all means looks like a Scott Niedermeyer/Mark Howe hybrid. That's very very good.

And then suddenly gets a concussion and signs (read) nobody over the offseason.

Our top three lines will possibly be:

For the first time in a long time, that's three scoring lines. No Oilers group has done that since... 1991.

The first line, with a little bit more size on Nugent-Hopkins and with Hall not consistently falling, will be s-i-c-k.
That second line, if they continue their first-line style play over these past few weeks, will give second pairing defencemen heck.
That third line, which has really been clicking, through all the combos, for probably the first time this year, could be pretty sick. It's got two shutdown guys in Smyth and Horcoff and a pretty good offensive guy in Omark.

This, of course, is assuming Omark gets his defensive game together and works to be a better player.

Mediocre Omark Situation - Welcome to Paajarville
We still draft Ryan Murray.

And we still don't sign anyone.

Instead, we believe that a deep playoff run helps Paajarvi progress into the player he should be according to his rookie stats.


That's some kind of semblance of scoring depth. If Paajarvi can get his act together, he's a good complement to the speed of Horcoff (he can do somethings right) and his defensive game is severely underrated.

Omark? He's in the press box. They keep switching Paajarvi, Jones and Omark out like a circus. It's this organization. We've seen stranger things.

No Omark Situation - Goodbye Ikea-Built Road
Sorry, Omark. Our run puts us out of the draft lottery (partly due to Omark's resurgence) and puts us at 6th position. We draft Filip Forsberg, and the collective Oilers fans across this good nation chuck various objects at their televisions.

Forsberg/Jones - Horcoff - Smyth

Now this is a situation - this is also a situation that will happen if we sign any free agent with a decent amount of skill - that Omark superfans want to avoid. It very well should not be Forsberg, but could be any free agent that Katz throws money at to add some size and depth to our front 9. Omark's days in an Oilers uniform are, well, finished.

Did he just lose the numbers game?
Whether by his own downfall via injury, or by his lack of solid play in the top 12 games (I blame Renney for screwing us out of depth here - he should have stayed longer than Paajarvi up here), Omark's played himself out of the top 9.

He's got 5 games to change their mind.

I hope he does - this kind of talent that this guy has does not grow on trees. Coming back from an injury, with meaningless games in front of him, he's played better than a solid half of this team.

All you people with the argument "He can't crack a 29th-place team's lineup", tell me how more infinitely talented Matt Frattin (TML), Michael Rupp (Rangers) or Dale Weise (Van) is. Or, how about telling me how Mikka Kiprusoff is an awful goalie because he couldn't beat out Evgeni Nabokov or Vesa Toskala at age 23. Or how Ray Whitney totally deserved to be flushed out of the Oilers system.

He won't get much, that's for certain - maybe a second-round pick from a playoff team desperate for offence, more likely a third or fourth rounder. But this is just the kind of player that will burn you in a trade.

Whatever it may be, at the end of the playoffs, this team has got to make a decision. They can't please everyone.

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