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

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Friday, 6 April 2012

04/06/12 Linus Omark: Oops!

The Edmonton Oilers have squandered an asset in Linus Omark. If they didn't want to use the crafty Swede, they could easily have tried to showcase him during another wasted season for a potential trade. Instead of that, they sent a signal to the entire league that he isn't a worthwhile player.

This article popped up on Wednesday, and asked a very valid question: what was the point of recalling Omark if the Oilers weren't going to play him? On a healthy team it would be understandable, but a fairly high profile winger just had season ending surgery. Omark's season never really had a chance to get off the ground, and leaving him in the AHL would have been more flattering to his value.

In order to retain Omark, the Oilers will be required to make him a Qualifying Offer of at least 105% of his 2011-12 salary, starting on July 1st. In Omark's case that salary will be no less than $918,750. But it probably won't come to that, because the Oilers appear to be utterly disinterested.

Omark hasn't played since March 25th against Columbus. Five games have passed since, and there's no indication that he's going to be put back into the lineup for the last one. Over the last five games that Omark did play, he was lucky to see eleven minutes of ice time, and he averaged a little under 16 shifts per game. Surprisingly, he still had two goals, nine shots and an even rating in that time, but the Oilers clearly have no use for him. The top six is enough of a logjam without Omark in the mix, and he doesn't bring enough to break in.

If Omark can't force the issue on the 29th-place Oilers, what chance is there that he would have had value around the league?

Every NHL team is not as rich in top-six forwards as the Oilers are currently. The Hurricanes, Kings,, Rangers, Ducks and Panthers are not exactly flush in left wingers, just to name a few teams. Omark is a better bet than a draft pick, because he has already shown some ability in the NHL. His shootout spin move alone is enough for him to be known around the league, but he's got some offensive tools in him as well. So if the Oilers didn't want Omark, they probably could have got an asset of some kind for him. Could it have been better than the fourth round pick the Oilers used to select Omark in the first place? Maybe.

But now all teams across the league will be aware that the Oilers aren't going to qualify Omark, and could take a crack at him as a free agent. If some team does want to trade for him, whatever the Oilers get back will be less valuable than if they had given him a chance to excel. It seems like the decision not to give him that shot was made before the season even started. Five games without a point and he was on a plane to OKC. Magnus Paajarvi got 25 games with 3 assists. What was Omark worth at the end of last season when he had 27 points in 51 games?

So what was the point of bringing Omark back? Is it a disconnect between management and the coaching staff? Is it some petty attempt to punish him? It's asset management at its worst.

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