a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Thursday, 14 July 2011

07/14/11 52.0 Trade With Columbus Coming?

Linus Omark

Kristian Huselius is injured, and will be out four to six months. Because of that, the rumor mill has kicked into gear again, and the Ales Hemsky to Columbus rumors are flying. While Hemsky would be a good fit for the Jackets (and an improvement over Huselius), it's unlikely to take place. The Blue Jackets no longer have anything that the Oilers would want that is of equivalent value to Hemsky. The eighth overall pick in this year's draft might have been a good starting point, but an unknown first round pick next year certainly isn't. Not only that, but trading Hemsky for a pick next year would set the team back by at least a year and almost certainly more.

But that isn't to say that there is no possibility of a trade between the two clubs. Obviously Scott Howson has strong ties to Edmonton, and the two sides have been trading partners in the past. So what might a deal look like? One somewhat expendable winger on the Oilers' roster is Linus Omark.

The Jackets organization is certainly aware of Omark and his skill level, so he could be a potential target. He's shown that he has good ability to set up his linemates, which is something that Columbus will need for Carter and Nash. Omark plays a lot of right wing for Edmonton, but he is officially listed a left winger - the same as Huselius. He's also a bargain player for $875,000, which may be important for Howson's internal budget, considering that they just signed Wiesniewski and added Carter. Together those two account for more than ten million dollars in cap hit and $13 million in actual salary next year.

There's plenty of talent in Omark, and a doggedness that is rare in players his size, but there are a few reasons that Edmonton may consider this trade. If the Oilers are committed to Ales Hemsky long term, along with Paajarvi, Hall and Eberle, then the log jam is too tight for Omark to break into the top six. He's not necessarily a prototypical bottom six forward, which means that he may begin to suffer the same ills that afflicted Cogliano.

Omark's contract also has an out-clause in it that allows him to return to Europe if he's not playing in the NHL next year. Supposing that a player like Teemu Hartikainen is a better fit after training camp, Omark can return to Europe and not be a part of the Oilers anyway.

Omark is less valuable than Hemsky, which means that the Blue Jackets do have the assets available to acquire him. The Oilers might be interested in a player like defenseman David Savard.

David Savard at the 2009 Entry Draft

Savard was taken 94th overall by Columbus in 2009, and since then he's seen his stock rise. In his last year in the QMJHL, Savard collected 13-64-77 in 64 games and finished as a plus-36 with Moncton. Last year was Savard's first in the AHL, and he put up 11-32-43 and a minus-6 rating in 72 games for a non-playoff team. At 6'1" and 217 pounds, he's physically mature enough for the NHL, and he also brings a right-handed shot, which is something that the Oilers are short on in their defensive group.

Savard was Defenseman of the Year in the entire CHL in 2009-10, Best Defenseman, and Best Defensive Defenseman in the QMJHL in the same year, as well as being named to the QMJHL First All-Star Team.

Despite all that, David Savard has never played an NHL game, while Linus Omark has. If, because of that, the Oilers could wrestle Savard and a 3rd or 4th round pick out of Columbus, it might be a deal worth making.


Columbus clearly has a large Huselius-shaped hole in their roster now, but they'll wait until after other teams are finished with the second buyout window and they'll also make a play for some free agents before making a trade. If all of those avenues fall through, Columbus will almost certainly make some kind of deal to try to fill their immediate need. Howson can't afford to have gone this far and leave a big opening at left wing.

The Oilers will only make this deal if they feel that another strong defensive prospect can help them more than Omark can down the road. If the writing on the wall is the same for Omark as it was for Cogliano, a deal makes sense before Omark is forced into a checking role that sees his production decline like Cogliano's did. There was a time that Cogliano was part of a package for a former 50 goal scorer, but he probably wouldn't even be in the conversation now. The Oilers can't afford to let the same fate befall Omark.

Having said that, the Oilers are probably most likely to keep Omark and hope that he progresses. If he makes the decision for them, the Oilers will keep him in the fold. Either way, he's a restricted free agent after next season, so Tambellini is going to have some decisions to make regarding the skilled Swede.

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