We used to know him by his YouTube videos, scoring goals that made Sidney Crosby stand up and applaud. Now we know him by his five goal coming-out party in the AHL against the Toronto Marlies. A mystery 4th round pick no longer, all of Oiler Nation knows the name Linus Omark.
Omark presents a dilemma to the Edmonton Oilers. He came to North America with the guarantee that by the 2011-12 season he would be a member of the team and would be given the opportunity to establish himself as a National Hockey League player. If he doesn't receive that chance by the start of next season he could, and probably will, go back to Europe. Will he get that NHL opportunity though?
One thing we know for certain is that Omark is very gifted offensively, as evidenced by his clips on YouTube and his point per game rate in the American Hockey League. It would make no sense to have a player with that much offensive talent to play in the bottom six. Omark's talents are such that he needs to be put on a scoring line. Tom Renney knows that, Steve Tambellini knows that, the entire Oilers organization knows it.
Looking at the Oilers' scorers next season, there isn't much room for Omark. Jordan Eberle, Magnus Svensson, Taylor Hall, Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner and Sam Gagner already account for seven players vying for six spots. The organization is clearly invested in developing the "Big Three" of Svensson, Eberle and Hall, and will give them every opportunity to succeed, ahead of the likes of Sam Gagner, Dustin Penner and the other veterans. They are every bit the future of the Edmonton Oilers.
Barring a trade, the earliest Omark will get the opportunity for a top six forward spot would be after the 2011-12 season, when both Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky will be unrestricted free agents. You could almost say that Omark will be an unrestricted free agent himself, someone who could return to Europe and make better money there if things don't work out in Edmonton.
For as much young talent as the Oilers have within their organization, they still have holes to fill. They lack a legitimate future goaltender, and don't have much in terms of puck-moving defensemen. Realistically, looking at the next couple of years for this team, there isn't much, if any, room for Omark to establish himself here.
Steve Tambellini has to look at this situation and ask what he could obtain for Omark on the trade market in terms of a prospect-for-prospect deal. Plenty of teams could use a player of his offensive abilities, and the Oilers have needs to fill. It might not sound pretty to trade away a player of Omark's potential, but what else can the Oilers do?