The Edmonton Oilers are so loaded at forward that they recently demoted shootout wizard Linus Omark to their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City. If they can't use him in Edmonton then perhaps it'd be best for the organization to trade him to a team that could use the help on offense.
Omark wasn't shy about expressing discontent after being clipped off of the Oilers roster. He went pointless in his first five games and found himself in the press box. After five games as a healthy scratch, he was shipped to the minors—not a place where he wants to be.
The logic behind the move makes sense.
Coach Tom Renney simply wants Omark to play where he'll have the best opportunity to log ample minutes. He was quoted in the Edmonton Sun, saying “we need to get him playing, and it’s hard to play him when the team is winning.”
It's hard to argue with the results. The Oilers are currently second overall in the Western Conference, and are among the NHL's biggest surprises so far this season. That doesn't make the demotion any easier on Omark however. Watching your teammates celebrate victories from a distance can't feel very good to a professional athlete.
The length of Omark's AHL stint hasn't been made clear by the Oilers yet, but Omark has made the situation interesting enough. His contract contains a clause that would allow him to leave North America to play in Europe should a minor league stint occur, and he recently told PuckLife Magazine that "I want to play in the NHL and if no one lets me do that then I'm going to go to Europe."
The options in Edmonton are simple. Either find a way to work Omark back into the lineup, lose him to a European League or dangle him as trade bait. He's a skilled guy, and at least a few teams would come knocking.
The LA Kings have been a team in search of a top-six left wing for the last few years. Simon Gagne has clicked well on a top like with Anze Kopitar, but Dustin Penner has left a lot to be desired alongside Mike Richards.
Richards was brought in to pivot a lights out second unit, and while he himself has been playing good hockey, the organizational weakness at left wing still stands out on a nightly basis. The next left winger on the depth chart is Kyle Clifford, and he just isn't a top-six guy.
The asking price for Linus Omark may not be out of reach for the Kings, and the deal could benefit all sides of the equation equally. He would bring a bit more talent to the top two lines and could form an interesting duo with the more physical Richards.
Omark strikes me as a guy who just needs the chance to stick and to feel respected. He'd have every opportunity to make an impact in LA.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are another team that always seems to be in need of good wingers. Sidney Crosby seems close to a return, and that will once again give the Pens the best trio of centers in the NHL.
They've always managed to make due with what they had on the wings in Pittsburgh. James Neal has been a revelation this season and will only get scarier once Crosby is the one feeding him the puck. Chris Kunitz has also quietly discovered his offensive touch.
There's little doubt though that the Penguins could use a little more talent among their top-six. Which is frightening since they've already been so good this season.
Linus Omark has some of the softest hands around—centers such as Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal could bring out the best in him as a player
Out of all 30 teams in the NHL, only the Anaheim Ducks are averaging less than two goals per game. Not just by a little bit either—right now they are putting up a lowly 1.86 goals per game.
The only player that seems to be going right now is Teemu Selanne. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan haven't been awful, but they haven't been the uncontrollable force that we're used to seeing either.
Where secondary scoring is usually an issue an Anaheim, consistently scoring goals at all is the new norm. Unless Jonas Hiller can suddenly morph into Tim Thomas and start allowing only a goal a game then the Ducks will need to find ways to score more.
Enter Linus Omark.
He wouldn't be the goal-scoring savior for Anaheim, but he wouldn't hurt matters either. What slippery players like Omark and Selanne could do together if chemistry formed could be tough to handle. If nothing else, Omark would give the Ducks another offensive option and a guy who could help out with a pedestrian Anaheim power play.
John Tavares has been every bit as good as advertised for the New York Islanders. Now if only he could get a little help...
I can see conversations developing around him the same way they have with Sidney Crosby over the years. The refrain is a common one: "Imagine what his numbers would be like if he got a decent winger." Kyle Okposo was supposed to be that guy (and I honestly thought that he was), but so far he has been unimpressive.
The Islanders have several players who can rotate in and out of the top-six, and Linus Omark would be another talented guy who can put the puck in the net—something New York has had issues doing so far this season.
The Colorado Avalanche can't quite seem to get it together. After a strong start the team sits at .500 and in 11th place in the Western Conference. The team boasts a younger group of players, and the offense begins and ends with talented pivots Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny.
Both of these top guys have had issues getting their games going so far this season. The Joakim Lindstrom experiment seems to have tapered off after showing promise in the preseason, and the Avalanche could use another talented winger after dealing Chris Stewart away to the St. Louis Blues last season.
Linus Omark is a (very) different kind of player but still brings a noticeable amount of skill to the lineup. He could really take off on a line with a guy like Duchene or Stastny.